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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




André Bazin (1918-1958). 



André Bazin and Italian 
Neorealism 

Edited by Bert Cardullo 



eontinuum 



Continuum International Publishing Group 

80 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038 

The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SEI 7NX 

www. continuumbooks. com 

©2011 Bert Cardullo 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, 
or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, 
recording, or otherwise, without the permission of the publishers. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Bazin, André, 1918-1958. 

André Bazin and Italian neorealism / edited by Bert Cardullo. 
p. cm. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 
ISBN- 13: 978-1-4411-7752-0 (hardcover : alk. paper) 
ISBN- 10: 1-4411-7752-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) 
ISBN- 13: 978-1-4411-7075-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) 

ISBN- 10: 1-4411-7075-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Motion pictures-Italy. 2. Realism in 
motion pictures. I. Cardullo, Bert. II. Title. 

PN1993.5.I88B3314 2011 
791.430945-dc22 

2011004814 

ISBN: 978-1-4411-6710-1 

Typeset by Fakenham Prepress Solutions, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 8NN 



Contents 



1. Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 1 

2. What Is Neorealism? 18 

3. "Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation" 29 

4. "La Terra Tretna" 51 

5. "Germany, Year Zero" 57 

6. "Bicycle Thieves" 61 

7. "Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 74 

8. "A Saint Becomes a Saint Only After the Fact: Heaven over the 
Marshes" 89 

9. "Neorealism, Opera, and Propaganda" (Forbidden Christ) 94 

10. "The Road to Hope" 103 

11. " Two Cents Worth of Hope" 106 

12. "UmbertoD.: A Gre at Work" 111 

13. "Inltaly" 117 

14. "Is the Italian Cinema Going to Disown Itself ?" 142 

15. "LaStrada" 148 



v 



Vi CONTENTS 

16. "Cruel Naples" (Gold ofNaples) 155 

17. "In Defense of Rossellini" 163 

18. "De Sica and Rossellini" 172 

19. "Senso" 176 

20. "Il Bidone, or the Road to Salvation Reconsidered" 180 

21. "TheRoof 184 

22. "Neorealism Returns: Love in the City" 187 

23. "The Profound Originality of I Vitelloni" 192 

24. "Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism" 195 

Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

(including precursors and successors) 204 

Select Bibliography of Italian Neorealism 237 

A Bazin Bibliography 243 

Index 246 



Chapter One 



Defining* the Real: 
The Film Theory and 
Criticism of André 
Bazin 



BY BERT CARDULLO 

"A modest fellow, sickly, slowly and prematurely dying, he it was who gave 
the patent of royalty to the cinema just as the poets of the past had crowned 
their kings." So wrote Jean Renoir of the great French critic and theorist André 
Bazin, nine years after he had succumbed to leukemia a few months past his 
fortieth birthday. The occasion was the 1967 publication of volume one of 
Whatls Cinema?, the first selection of his articles and reviews to be translated 
into English (volume two followed in 1971), and Renoir added the following 
in his preface: "There is no doubt about the influence that Bazin will have in 
the years to come." 

This prophecy was amply fulfilled, though (as is often the case with proph- 
ecies) not quite in the way Renoir had imagined. Its no exaggeration to say 
that Bazin is the single thinker most responsible for bestowing on the cinema 
the prestige both of an object of knowledge and of an art form — what has 
become the art form of our visual age in that it incorporates all others and in 
that, more and more, via DVDs and the Internet, it is the most widely available 
one. While scattered attempts had been made before to denne the "essence" 
of cinema (most notably in the works of Rudolf Arnheim and Siegfried 
Kracauer), Bazins ideas were to prove the decisive ones in establishing its 
credentials as a separate and legitimate field of intellectual inquiry, and one 



1 



2 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



that has become even more legitimate now that so many of us satisfy so much 
of our intellectual curiosity, let alone our aesthetic craving, through visual 
rather than print media. In one of his essays from the 1940s Bazin himself 
projected that distant day when film studies would enter the university 
curriculum — and it was Bazin more than anyone else who played the role of 
midwife. 

André Bazin was born on April 18, 1918, in the city of Angers in northwest 
France, but moved with his family to the western seaport of La Rochelle 
when he was five years old. Since he had wanted from an early age to become 
a teacher, he studied first at the École normale of La Rochelle (1936) and 
the École normale of Versailles (1937-1938), then at the École normale 
supérieure of Saint-Cloud (1938-1941). Bazin graduated from Saint-Cloud 
with the highest honors (after he was called up for military service in 
1939, then demobilized in mid-1940) but was disqualified from teaching in 
French schools because of a stutter. The failed teacher quickly turned into 
a missionary of the cinema, his passion for which was part of his general 
passion for culture, aesthetic truth, and moral or spiritual sensibility. 

In 1942, during the German Occupation, Bazin became a member of an 
organization in Paris — the Maison des Lettres — that was founded to take 
care of young students whose regular scholastic routine had been interrupted 
by the war. There he founded a cinema club where he showed politically 
banned films in defiance of the Nazi authorities and the Vichy government. 
During World War II, in 1943, Bazin also worked at the Institut des hautes 
études cinématographiques (I.D.H.E.C.), the French film school; there he was 
appointed director of cultural services after the war; and there he first began 
to crystallize his ideas in oral presentations and debates. 

Bazin came to film criticism by way of his collaboration with Travail 
et Culture, a semi-official body concerned with cultural activities among 
working-class people, for whom he organized innumerable screenings. After 
the Liberation, he was appointed film critic of a new daily newspaper, Le 
Parisien libéré — a large-circulation daily tabloid with lots of sports coverage 
and "human interest" stories but little politics. Thus began Bazins formal or 
official life as a public critic and with it the development of a new type of 
movie reviewing — one of his singular achievements being the ability to make 
his insights understood by readers on all levels without any concessions to 
popularizing. Yet Bazin never entirely lost sight of his educational ambitions, 
evidenced in an heuristic style of argument that implies more than it states 
and forces readers to think for themselves. 

Bazins blend of the logical and the poetical (though never the political, despite 
the fact that he himself belonged to the left) drew the attention of Jean-Paul 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 



3 



Sartre, who commissioned him to write essays for the distinguished philo- 
sophical journal Les temps modernes. Thereafter his name became associated 
with a staggering array of popular and specialist magazines, the most notable 
beingEÉcranfrancais, France-Observateur, Radio-Cinéma-Télévision, La Revue 
du cinéma, Critique, VEducation Nationale, Esprit — and finally the histori- 
cally momentous Cahiers du cinéma, which he founded with Lo Duca and 
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze in 1951. In all Bazin is said to have penned something 
approaching 1 ,500 pieces, including contributions to foreign magazines (mainly 
Italian) as well as French ones. (He needed to be prolific since by this time he had 
a family to support: his wife, Janine, and a small son, Florent.) 




André Bazin. 



4 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The remainder of his life was an uneventful round of festivals, conferences, 
and association or editorial meetings, all of them progressively overshadowed 
by the illness with which he was diagnosed in 1954. Bazin died at Nogent-sur- 
Marne on November 11, 1958. At the time he was completing a book-length 
study of Jean Renoir (later edited for publication by his loyal disciple Francois 
Truffaut) and working on the script for Les Églises romanes de Saintonge, a 
short documentary about Romanesque churches that he planned to direct 
himself. Indeed, there was always something a little medieval and monkish 
about Bazin, who himself was a practicing Catholic. Renoir compared him 
to one of the saints pictured in the stained-glass windows at Chartres; 
Truffaut went so far as to call him a creature from the time before original 
sin. Nearly everyone acquainted with Bazin eulogized his wisdom together 
with his personal goodness — and couched both in terms drawn from religious 
asceticism. 

While the merest rumor of the transcendent is enough to scandalize most 
film theorists, it helps to explain Bazins enduring appeal among those at 
least open to the possibility of the divine. Reading Bazin, one never has the 
sense of a professional Hogging his secular academic specialty in return for 
institutional preferment. Instead, one comes into contact with a person — or, 
more correctly, a soul — bound by a sacred charge to inquire after truth. The 
luminous quality of Bazins writing can no doubt be attributed in part to his 
chronic frail health, for reality stands out in colors all the more radiant for 
being contemplated under the shadow of death. But, even though it comprises 
the biggest stumbling block even for critics otherwise congenial to Bazin, 
there is no denying the primary source of his inspiration: faith. Id like to 
emphasize that in this introduction, because Bazin was an intellectual and a 
Christian — better, a Christian intellectual — when it was still possible publicly 
to be both and at the same time to be tåken seriously. Obviously, I dont think 
this is true anymore — certainly not in the United States — and I lament that 
fact, for the sake of intellectuals as well as Christians. 

At the heart of Bazins strictures on cinematic realism lies the conviction 
that the movie camera, by the simple act of photographing the world, testifies 
to the miracle of Gods creation. It is sanctioned to do so precisely — and 
paradoxically — because it is an invention of science. Throughout the ages, 
Bazin argues, mankind has dreamed of being able to see the surface of the 
world faithfully copied in art (see "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," 
1945). He ascribes this wish to what he calls the "mummy complex" — an 
innate human need to halt the ceaseless flow of time by embalming it in an 
image. But it was not until the development of photography in the nineteenth 
century that this appetite for the real could be fully satisfied. For Bazin, a 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 



5 



photograph holds an irrational power to persuade us of its truth because it 
results from a process of mechanical reproduction in which human agency 
plays no part. A painting, however lifelike, is still the obvious product of 
human craft and intention, whereas the photographic image is just what 
happens automatically when the light reflected from objects strikes a layer of 
sensitive chemical emulsion. 

"Photography," Bazin writes, "affects like a phenomenon in nature, like a 
flower or a snowflake whose vegetable or earthly origins are an inseparable part 
of their supernal beauty." In Bazins view, it's this objective quality of the photo- 
graph — the fact that it is first of all a sensory datum and only later perhaps a 
work of art — which gives the medium its privileged relationship with the real. 
It follows that both photography and its spawn, the motion picture, have a 
special obligation toward reality. Their principal responsibility is to document 
the world before attempting to interpret or criticize it. And for Bazin, this 
moral duty is ultimately a sacred one — the photographic media being, in effect, 
preordained to bear endless witness to the beauty of the cosmos. 

Bazins criticism is not remotely doctrinal in its Catholicism, however; it is 
fundamentally holistic, its source lying elsewhere than in aesthetic dissection. 
His true filmmaker attains power through "style," which is not a thing to be 
expressed but an inner orientation enabling an outward search or quest. Such 
spiritual sensitivity and its enablement through film are central to Bazins view 
of film as obligated to God, to honor Gods universe by using film to render 
the reality of the universe and, through its reality, it mystery-cum-musicality. 
This view led Bazin to certain specific espousals — of Italian neorealism, the 
technique of deep focus, and more — but these were all secondary conse- 
quences for him of the way that film could best bear witness to the miracle of 
the creation. Éric Rohmer, who became a filmmaker in the Bazinian tradition 
but who in the 1950s was a critical-editorial colleague of Bazins, has said: 
" Without a doubt, the whole body of Bazins work is based on one central idea, 
an affirmation of the objectivity of the cinema." 

Since Bazins general idea was to discover in the nature of the photo- 
graphic image an objectively realistic feature, the concept of objective reality 
as a fundamental quality of the cinematic shot in fact became the key to 
his theoretical and critical work. For him, the photographic origin of film 
explains the novelty of and fascination with the cinema. The picture is a kind 
of double of the world, a reflection petrified in time but brought back to life 
by cinematic projection; in other words, everything that is filmed once was 
in reality. A rapt Bazin thus speaks of the ontological realism of the cinema, 
and, according to him, the camera is naturally the objective tool with which 
to achieve it. 



6 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



He granted this camera a purifying power and a superhuman impassiveness 
that could restore the virgin object in all its purity to the attention and love 
of the viewer. And he saw almost perfect examples of this "brute represen- 
tation" of the cinema in documentary as well as scientific films, in which the 
filmmaker interferes or tampers very little with nature. Bazin saw such brute 
representation additionally in the deep-focus mise en scene of William Wylers 
films, which tended toward a neutrality or objectivity that was eminently 
moral and liberal, hence perfectly characteristic of American freedom and 
democracy. For him, only ontological realism of this type was capable of 
restoring to the object and its setting the spiritual density of their being. 

Predictably, Bazins thesis has been assailed for placing the metaphysical 
cart before the materialist horse. And, as if resolved to tweak the noses of 
his Marxist opponents, Bazin propounds the fanciful notion that technical 
change arises less as the outcome of economic and historical forces than from 
an ineffable "something" one can only call spiritual will (see "The Myth of 
Total Cinema," 1946). Photography and cinema, together with such innova- 
tions as color stock, sound recording, anamorphic lenses, and 3-D, are thus 
successive responses to an obscurely planted desire for an ever more perfect 
approximation of the real. Although Bazin is generally too discreet a writer 
to let his theological slip show, it's clear that here he conceives of such artistic 
and industrial gains as prompted by an esoteric design. His thought in this 
instance betrays its sizeable debt to the science-cum-mysticism of the radical 
Catholic visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who projected an evolutionary 
spiraling of human consciousness until it fuses with divine revelation. (In 
more secular terms, theres also a tinge of Sartrean existentialism in Bazins 
emphasis on a cinema of "being" in the act or process of "becoming.") 

Still, Bazin sets a hypothetical limit to his "myth of total cinema." If the 
cinema ever could succeed in becoming the exact double of reality, it would 
also fail — since it would then cease to exist as cinema. Like a mathematical 
asymptote, filmic representation is always doomed to fall a little short of 
its goal. But if cinema never quite merges with life, thats what allows it to 
be an art form whose mission is to reveal life. Bazin concedes that there is 
no art without artifice and that one must therefore surrender a measure of 
reality in the process of translating it onto celluloid. The cinematic staging or 
rendering of the real can be carried out in untold ways, however, so it would 
be more suitable to speak of filmic "realisms" than of a single, definitive realist 
mode. And in this respect Bazin comes closer to endorsing the postmodern 
shibboleth of pluralism than his adversaries tend to realize — though he 
happily foregoes postmodernisms nihilism. 

Yet his pristine vision of an aesthetic reality remains, strictly speaking, the 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 7 

inaccessible alpha and omega of the movie medium, since it is inevitably 
contaminated by human subjectivity. Individual films and filmmakers all 
carve up the unbroken plenitude of the real, imposing on it style and meaning. 
But the crucial distinction for Bazin is (in an oft-quoted phrase from "The 
Evolution of the Language of Cinema," 1950-1955) between "those directors 
who put their faith in the image and those who put their faith in reality." He 
took a notoriously dim view, for example, of Robert Wienes The Cabinet of 
Dr. Caligari (1920) and other films made in the German expressionist style, 
because he judged their elaborate manipulations of lighting and décor to be 
a willful attempt to bend reality out of shape and force it to reflect perverse 
states of mind. What Bazin objected to in the work of Sergei Eisenstein was 
precisely how the Soviet director splintered reality into a series of isolated 
shots, which he then reassembled through the art of montage. 

Indeed, Bazins basic position cannot be understood except as a strong 
reaction against principles of filmmaking that had prevailed before then: of 
subjectivity, of an arrangement and interpretation of the world — what might 
be called Eisenstein-Pudovkin principles (different though those two men 
were) in editing. Bazin was opposed to such an approach as "self-willed" and 
"manipulative," as the imposition of opinion where the filmmaker should 
try, in effect, to stand aside and reveal reality. By contrast, the first line of 
Pudovkins Film Technique (1929) is: "The foundation of film art is editing." 
Bazin upheld mise en scene against editing or montage because, to him, the 
former represented "true continuity" and reproduced situations more realis- 
tically, leaving the interpretation of a particular scene to the viewer rather 
than to the directors viewpoint through cutting. Consistent with this view, 
he argued in support of both the shot-in-depth and the long or uninterrupted 
take, and commended the switch from silent to talking pictures as one step 
toward the attainment of total realism on film. 

The Russians themselves had derived their methods from American movies, 
especially those of D. W. Griffith, and American cinema had continued in the 
"editing" vein. In Hollywood pictures and, through their example, in most 
pictures everywhere, the guiding rule was to edit the film to conform to the 
flow of the viewers attention, to anticipate and control that attention. The 
director and editor or cutter chose the fraction of space that they thought the 
viewer would most want to see each fraction of a second: the heros face when 
he declares his love, then the heroines reaction, then the door when someone 
else enters, and so on, bit by bit. Now the Russians' use of montage had much 
more complex aims, aesthetic and ideological, than presumed audience 
gratification of the Hollywood kind, but technically it, too, was a mosaic or 
discontinuous approach to reality. 



8 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Bazin disagreed strongly and, one can legitimately say religiously. He 
distrusted montage on the ground that its dynamic juxtaposition of images 
hurtles the viewer along a predetermined path of attention, the aim being 
to construct a synthetic reality in support of a propagandist or partial (in 
both senses of the word) message. To Bazin this was a minor heresy since it 
arrogated the power of God, who alone is entitled to confer meaning on the 
universe. But inasmuch as God absents himself from the world and leaves it 
up to us to detect the signs of his grace, Bazin valued those film artists who 
respected the mystery embedded in creation. 

One such director was the Italian neorealist Vittorio De Sica, who in films 
such as Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D. (1952) humbly renounced the 
hubristic display of authorial personality and thus enabled his audience to 
intuit the numinous significance of people, things, and places. "The mise en 
scene seems to take shape after the fashion of a natural form in living matter," 
Bazin wrote in 1951 in "De Sica: Metteur en scene." He recognized that film art 
always condenses, shapes, and orders the reality it records, but what he looked 
for in filmmakers was what he found in De Sicas work: a kind of spiritual 
disposition toward reality, an intention to serve it by a scrupulous effacement 
of means and a corresponding unwillingness to do violence to it through 
ideological abstraction or self-aggrandizing technique. 

The best director, then — Orson Welles, Roberto Rossellini, Renoir, and 
F. W. Murnau also rank high for Bazin — is the one who mediates least, the 
one who exercises selectivity just sufficiently to put us in much the same 
relation of regard and choice toward the narrative as we are toward reality in 
life: a director who thus imitates (not arrogates), within his scale, the divine 
disposition toward man. Other than such an anomalous director as Miklos 
Jancso, to whom one reel equals one shot, most modern movie directors, of 
course, use the reality of the held, "plumbed" shot as well as the mega-reality 
of montage. One need look no further than the work of Bazihs venerator 
Truffaut for an example of this. And such a balance between montage and mise 
en scene in film practice doesht smugly patronize Bazin, since no one before 
him had spoken up so fully and influentially for his side of the question. 

Given Bazihs passionate advocacy of this cinema of "transparency," it may 
seem puzzling that he is likewise remembered in film history as an architect of 
the celebrated politique des auteurs. Under his tutelage, the younger journalists 
at Cahiers championed such previously patronized talents as Alfred Hitchcock, 
Howard Hawks, and Douglas Sirk, thereby shifting the critical goalposts 
forever. (Since many of Bazihs reviewing colleagues, Truffaut, Jean-Luc 
Godard, Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette among them, went on 
to direct their own films — and thus become the first generation of cineastes 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 9 

whose work was thoroughly grounded in film history and theory — he is also 
often regarded as the spiritual father of the nouvelle vague.) If Bazins criticism 
constitutes a cine-theology, it might almost be said that his ideal auteur fulfills 
the role of saint — an inspired intercessor in or with reality. 

Bazins stake in the politique can probably be traced back to his involvement 
in the 1930s Christian existential movement known as personalism, which 
posited the creative individual who takes risks, makes choices, and exercises 
his or her God-given faculty of free will. It should be added, however, that 
Bazin eventually distanced himself from the priestly cult of the director- 
author because he felt it ignored the commercial context in which most 
movies were produced — a context where the work of art is not necessarily 
stamped with the personality of its creator, in which the director may not be 
the one above all who gives a film its distinctive quality. A keen observer of 
Hollywood cinema (whose "classical" adaptability he was among the first to 
appreciate), he nonetheless set its gifted practitioners on a lower rung than 
those masters who answered to his chaste and simple ideals: Renoir, Charlie 
Chaplin, De Sica, Rossellini, Carl Dreyer, and Robert Bresson. 

Despite differences in stylistic approach, these film artists converge on the 
same enigmatic reality like the radii of a mandala. If anything joins them 
more specifically, its a concern to find the technical means for a concrete 
rendering of space and time. And this is another charge that Bazin brought 
against montage: its sacrifice of the dimensional integrity of the photographed 
event. Though we live in duration and extension, montage can only cheat on 
our experience since it is an art of ellipsis. In the name of a higher realism, 
then, Bazin celebrated the long, uninterrupted take for its capacity to simulate 
the most elemental aspect of nature — its continuousness. Though Bazin knew, 
of course, that the camera must restrict itself to slicing out a tiny portion of 
space, he thought a tactful deployment of the mise en scene could sustain the 
illusion of life spilling over the borders of the frame. 

His great hero in this regard was Renoir, who, significantly for Bazin, 
combined long takes with the technique of deep-focus cinematography. Bazin 
considered this not just one aesthetic option among others but in fact the 
very essence of modern cinematic realism. For him, the incalculable virtue 
of deep focus is its ambiguity: since everything in the film frame can be seen 
with equal clarity, the audience has to decide for itself what is meaningful 
or interesting. While a director such as Welles or Wyler (to whose 1941 film 
The Little Foxes Bazin would return again and again) may provide accents 
or directions in the composition of the image, each nonetheless opens up 
the possibility that the viewer can, so to speak, do the editing in his or her 
own head. In short, deep-focus cinematography invites an awareness of both 



10 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



personal freedom and ethical responsibility; in cinema as in life, we must be 
free to choose our own salvation. 

Possibly the best example of Bazins advocacy of the long take, photographed 
in depth, occurs in his essay "The Technique of Citizen Kane" (1947), in 
particular his analysis of the famous scene depicting Susan Alexander Kanes 
attempted suicide and its immediate aftermath — a scene that takes place 
entirely in one shot, in deep focus. Traditional editing, the five or six shots 
into which this scene could be divided, would give us, according to Bazin, "the 
illusion of being at real events unraveling before us in everyday reality. But this 
illusion conceals an essential bit of deceit because reality exists in continuous 
space and the screen presents us, by contrast, with a succession of fragments 
called "shots."' Instead, Welles presents the experience whole, in order to give 
us the same privileges and responsibilities of choice that life itself affords. In 
"The Evolution of the Language of Cinema," Bazin says further that "Citizen 
Kane is unthinkable shot in any other way than in depth. The uncertainty in 
which we find ourselves as to the spiritual key or the thematic interpretation 
we should put on the film is thus built into the very design of the image." 

On his death, an obituary notice in Esprit cited Bazin as predicting that 
"the year 2000 will salute the advent of a cinema free of the artificialities of 
montage, renouncing the role of an 'art of reality' so that it may climb to its 
final level on which it will become once and for all reality made art.'" But 
in this as in so much else, Bazin the jubilant millenarian has been proved 
exactly wrong. At no other period in its history, in fact, has the cinema been 
so enslaved by escapist fantasy — and never have we been less certain of the 
status of the real. Now the digitalization of the image threatens to cut the 
umbilical cord between photograph and referent on which Bazin founded his 
entire theory. 

Moreover, the particular forms of "transparency" that he admired have 
themselves grown opaque in just a few decades. Italian neorealism increas- 
ingly yields up its melodrama and fakery to all those who would look beneath 
its surface, while the mannered and rigid mise en scene of deep focus betrays 
the theatricality of its proscenium-like full shot. In the end, every living 
realism petrifies, to become a relic in the museum of obsolete artistic styles. 
Yet, as Bazin might have said (of himself above all), the certainty of failure 
doesnt rule out the necessity for each artist to strive to honor reality according 
to his or her own lights and those of the time. All it requires is a leap of faith. 

Realist or not, unlike all the other authors of major film theories, Bazin 
was a working or practical critic who wrote regularly about individual films. 
He never left a systematic book of theory, instead preferring to have implicit 
theoretical dialogues with filmmakers and other critics through his critical 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 11 



writing in a number of journals. Indeed, it has been suggested that the best 
of his criticism has been lost because it occurred in the form of oral presenta- 
tions and debates at such places as I.D.H.E.C. That may be the case; however, 
the most important of his essays — some sixty of them culled from the many 
pieces he wrote for various magazines — were collected in the posthumously 
published Quést-ce que le cinéma? (1958-1962). Then there are Bazins books 
on Renoir, Welles, and Chaplin, all published after his death, like the four 
volumes of Quest-ce que le cinéma?. 

Bazin based his criticism on the films actually made rather than on any 
preconceived aesthetic or sociological principles; and film theory for the first 
time became, with him, a matter not of pronouncement and prescription, but 
of description, analysis, and deduction. He tried to answer the question, not 
"Is the movie worth the money?" but rather, "If a film is worth seeing, why 
is it worth seeing as a. film?" And while the fragmentary method of Bazins 
writing may have prevented him from organizing a fully elaborated system 
like Kracauers in Theory of Film (1960), it gives to his criticism a density of 
thought, as well as a constructive dependence on examples, that is absent from 
Kracauers work. 

Bazins usual procedure was to watch a film closely — more than once, if 
possible — appreciating its special values and noting its difficulties or contra- 
dictions. Then he would imagine the kind of film it was or was trying to be, 
placing it within a genre or fabricating a new genre for it. He would then 
formulate the laws of this genre, constantly reverting to examples from this 
picture and others like it. Finally, these "laws" would be seen in the context of 
an entire theory of cinema. Thus Bazin begins with the most particular facts 
available in the individual movie before his eyes, and, through a process of 
logical yet imaginative reflection, he arrives at a general theory of film art. 

In this he showed himself to be a college graduate accustomed to the rigors 
of scientific analysis, bringing to the study of motion pictures a mind of 
unremitting objectivity and going about his work very much in the manner 
of a geologist or zoologist in front of his microscope. Without forgetting the 
special quality of cinema as an art form, moreover, he never lost sight of film 
as a social document that reflects its times — not like a mere carbon copy, but 
more like an X-ray, penetrating the surface of reality so as to bring out the 
pattern that lies underneath. 

Using only fair or mediocre works as a starting point — The Battle of 
Stalingrad (1949-1950) and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956), for 
example — Bazin could write exemplary criticism about the insights they 
provided into the less familiar aspects of the Soviet and American ways of 
thinking. His long essay "The Myth of Stalin," which appeared in Esprit in the 



12 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



summer of 1950, acquired a prophetic note in the light of Nikita Khrushchevs 
famous secret report; and Darryl F. Zanucks lengthy, tedious super- production 
of Sloan Wilsons novel provided the occasion for a devastating analysis of the 
modern American obsession with success at any price. 

Every movie, then, even a bad one, is an opportunity for Bazin to develop 
an historical or sociological hypothesis, or to postulate about the manner 
of artistic creation. Bazin founds his critical method on the fecundity of 
paradox — dialectically speaking, something true that seems false and is all 
the truer for seeming so. Starting from a films most paradoxical aspect, he 
demonstrates its utter artistic necessity. Bressons Diary of a Country Priest 
(1951) and Jean Cocteaus Les Parents terribles (1948), for instance, are all the 
more cinematic for the formers scrupulous faithfulness to its novelistic source 
and the latters strict adherence to its dramatic antecedent; thus for Bazin they 
are instances of "impure" or "mixed" cinema. A special effect, for him, is most 
effectively fantastic when it is also the most realistic; films are most sacred 
when they mostly work against the mediums affinity for religious iconog- 
raphy; and a picture like Federico Fellinis I vitelloni (1953), Bazin argues, 
reveals most about the souls of its characters as it focuses most exclusively 
on appearances. He even anticipates deconstructive analysis by justifying the 
shortcomings or anomalies of so-called masterpieces, maintaining that they 
are as necessary to the success of these works as their aesthetic virtues. 

Above all, one principle lies at the basis of every piece Bazin ever penned. 
It can be called "the tactful principle," and this for two reasons. First, he had 
a way of criticizing films that he did not like which was frrm and without 
concessions, but which was also devoid of any bitterness or meanness. This 
made him appear to be the kind of man "you would love to be criticized by," to 
paraphrase an expression applied to Bazin by no less than Erich von Stroheim. 
Second, this principle of tact in fact characterizes a method of subtle analysis 
and differentiation applied to the complex and varied living organisms that 
were films to Bazin — organisms whose delicate mechanisms he tried to 
discern without losing sight of or even obscuring their general movement. His 
development of a critical argument, his caution and reservations, the frequent 
"granted," "to be sure," "you will object," "and yet" — none of these betray 
any negative spirit or mediocre taste, but instead a nuanced attitude bent on 
discovering purer and purer qualities and distinctions. 

There is in Bazins thought and writing no Byzantine attitude, no ornamental 
preciosity, no tendency to "split hair," for which some of his critical opponents 
reproached him (or if he did so, it was horizontally). There was only an 
artistic, even clinical inclination to deconstruct complex constructions, to 
join together separate lines here and there, or to disassociate those lines only 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 13 



in order to reassemble them some place else. Henri Bergsons influence is 
implicit here and explicit in Bazins famous essay on the ontology of the photo- 
graphic image, as well as in his excellent article on Henri-Georges Clouzots 
1956 film The Picasso Mystery (a piece actually titled "A Bergsonian Film"). 
This influence is equally present everywhere in Bazins work, it must be said, 
as when he contemplates the notions of time and memory or confronts the 
forces of change and flux. 

If most of Bazins articles — the long theoretical essays together with the short 
analytical ones — relentlessly pose the question "What is cinema?" it is not 
because motion pictures were for him the objects of a mechanical, secondary 
application of some pre-existing theory, but because he had first designed and 
refined a rigorous method consisting of a series of questions to put to the cinema, 
even if this meant that a picture forced him to change his initial hypothesis on 
account of its aesthetic novelty (as happened in the case of Renoirs American 
films). In an article from Cahiers du cinéma titled "The Sum of André Bazin," 
Éric Rohmer aptly noted the partial provenance of Bazins method: the fields of 
geology, botany, zoology, physics, and chemistry, on which he leaned heavily 
for a series of splendid metaphors that recur throughout his writing. 

That is to say, precisely the fields where the most powerful and transforming 
movement of time is the most obvious: slow, invisible ripenings that change 
the landscape or sudden, instantaneous transmutations that alter this or that 
state (like the crystallization of an oversaturated solution in response to a 
minor shock or jolt). The cinema is the field par excellence of such unstable 
balances, of fragile or even fatal symbioses. And Bazin waited with a simul- 
taneously vexed and excited attention — almost a morbid anxiety — for the 
appearance of catalysts that could alter "the purity of filmic purity" at any 
particular moment or gradually, over the course of a movies length. 

And do I need to recall here Bazins unfailing ability to detect, analyze, and 
of course admire new things? He supported Welles in his time against the 
resistance of puzzled technicians and the conservatism of his timorous fellow 
filmmakers; he supported neorealism, in its ideal form, against the advocates 
of "classical" moviemaking style; he supported Rossellini against those who, 
as of Europe '51 (1952), were ready to burn him at the stake; he supported 
the ever resilient will of Chaplin against those who wanted to bury him with 
the character of the Tramp; and he supported Renoirs seemingly confused 
changes of direction against those who wanted merely to see Toni (1935) over 
and over again. 

But Bazin also supported the marginal forms of cinema (scientific or 
geographical, touristic or travel, amateur or nonprofessional) against the 
harsh defenders of standard filmic formats; he supported the advent both of 



14 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



CinemaScope and of television; finally, shortly before his death, he supported 
the emergence of filmmakers who were bringing with them a new artistic 
freedom (Astruc, Marker, Resnais, Rouch, Vadim, Varda, Chabrol, and 
Truffaut). To renew Bazins legacy today, then, is not simply to write the 
umpteenth essay on this or that film, theory, or critic, but to apply some of his 
strength, sharpness, and humor to the chaos of composite, "impure" pictures 
that come out everywhere, every day. It is to distinguish original cinematic 
experiment from falsely inventive sham, in the way that Bazin did — could not 
help but do — with every fiber of his being. 

Truly mourned by many — among them filmmakers such as Renoir, Truffaut, 
Visconti, and Bresson — André Bazin died just ahead of the movement that 
placed cinema in college classrooms. He did his teaching in film clubs, at 
conferences, and in published articles. Yet while many people now make 
their livings teaching film (and far better livings than Bazin ever enjoyed), 
some teachers look back with longing to that era when reflection about the 
movies took place in a natural arena rather than in the hothouse atmosphere 
common to universities. Film theory as well as criticism is for the most part 
now an acquired discipline, not a spontaneous activity, and the cinema is seen 
as a field of "research" rather than as an aesthetic activity — indeed, a human 
reality. Current film scholars, including those hostile to his views, look in 
wonder to Bazin, who in 1958 was in command of a complete, coherent, and 
thoroughly humanistic view of the cinema. 

Though he didnt live to see the first flowering of academic film theory in 
the late 1960s, the pedagogic side of Bazin would doubtless have been gratified 
that cinema was no longer a trivial pursuit but henceforth would be a serious 
discipline calling for the most concentrated attention and rigor on the part of 
its adherents. Yet the poet in him — the fecund wielder of figure and metaphor, 
who drew on the fathomless well of his own imaginative intuition — would 
just as surely have experienced a sense of loss. For the scholarly discourse of 
cinema soon developed a pomp and rigidity that increasingly excluded those 
dazzling imaginative leaps that were at the heart of Bazins prose style. 

It was his good fortune, then, to write in the period just before film studies 
congealed into an institution. As a working critic, contributing irregularly 
and — so he thought — ephemerally to the pages of Cahiers du cinéma, Bazin 
could allow his mind free play in an atmosphere as yet unhampered by Jesuital 
nit-picking. He enjoyed the privilege of being a critic able to cut to the quick 
of an argument with no other justification than his own unerring instinct. In 
consequence, Bazins thought is infinitely more concrete, nimble, and flexible 
than the lucubrations of those obliged to flag each theoretical moved with a 
sheaf of footnotes. 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 15 



Yet it was for his very virtues that Bazin came under attack by the 
budding generation of film pedants — and, ironically, almost at the same 
moment as he was being canonized as a classic. Bazin, it was claimed, 
refused to follow due process. His vaunted theory of realism amounted 
to little more than a loose patchwork of ideas that never coalesced into 
a stringent system, but instead remained dangerously impressionistic and 
often flatly contradictory. Professional intellectuals who jumped on Bazins 
alleged incoherence, however, also underrated the profoundly dialectical 
nature of his thinking. To put it another way, they were stone-blind 
to Bazins poetic genius — his ability to hold contrary terms in a state 
of paradoxical suspension that transcends mere theory and approaches 
mystical comprehension. 

But there was worse to come. For Bazin, a rhapsodist of the cinema and a 
true believer in its perfectibility, had replied to his own sweeping question 
"What is cinema?" with a resoundingly affirmative answer — whereas the 
new breed of theorists responded to the same question increasingly in the 
negative. In the wake of the 1960s counterculture, film-studies departments 
across Europe as well as the United States were transformed into hubs of 
self-styled revolutionary activity. Fueled by the absolutist views of the French 
structuralist and Marxist Louis Althusser (who proclaimed the function of 
the mass media to be an endless endorsement of ruling-class values), radical 
academics came not to praise cinema but to bury it. And deconstructionists, 
structuralists, semioticians, Marxists, and other such fellow travelers of the 
left reductively reviled Bazin with lethal epithets like "bourgeois idealist," 
"mystical humanist," and "reactionary Catholic." 

Perhaps it was impossible to avoid a head-on collision between Bazins 
meditative humanism and a knee-jerk dogmatism that saw popular cinema 
as an ideological apparatus — an efficient mechanism for turning out docile 
Citizens of oppressive nations. As the most eminent critic of the preceding 
decade of the 1950s in France, Bazin became a figurehead for the estab- 
lishment, and the militant new regime at Cahiers hammered him for his 
supposed political complicity (an Oedipal rebellion if ever there was one). 
Crossing over to Great Britain by way of the influential theoretical journal 
Screen, the sport of Bazin-bashing proliferated throughout the 1970s and 
1980s. How could anyone be fool enough to suppose that the cinema was 
capable of recording reality directly, when the reciprocal insights of semiotics 
and Lacanian psychoanalysis had demonstrated that human perception is 
always mediated by language? It might almost be said that the whole 
Byzantine edifice of contemporary theory sprang out of an irresistible desire 
to prove Bazin wrong. 



16 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Nowadays, of course, it is a truth universally acknowledged that reality is 
a construction, and Bazins reputed innocence on this score no longer raises 
sectarian hackles — more like a condescending smile instead. Admittedly, 
his earnest belief in the intrinsically realist vocation of film puts him on the 
far side of postmodern relativism and doubt. Yet insofar as a compulsive 
skepticism and a jaded cynicism have become the orthodoxies of our age, this 
may be the moment to start rehabilitating reality — and André Bazin. All the 
more so because Bazins formalist and spiritualist enterprise may have aimed, 
finally, less at discovering a conservative synthesis, communion, or unity in art 
as in life, than at freeing aesthetic pleasure from dramaturgical exigency alone, 
at implicating the viewer in an active relationship with the screen, and at 
freeing cinematic space and time from slavery to the anecdotal. As such, Bazin 
was, as if anything, a species of transcendentalist, a kind of cinematic Hegel, 
who proposed to discover the nature of filmic reality as much by investigating 
the process of critical thought as by examining the artistic objects of sensory 
experiences themselves, among which he would have welcomed digital film 
and web-movies, even as he welcomed the advent of television in the 1950s (in 
addition to writing about this then-new medium in his final years). 

Despite Bazins tragically premature death of leukemia in 1958, he left much 
material behind — in his four-volume Quést-ce que le cinéma? as well as in 
such magazines as Esprit, EÉcran francais, and France-Observateur — some of 
the best of which I gathered in Bazin at Work: Major Essays and Reviews from 
the '40s and '50s (Routledge, 1997). To this earlier work my André Bazin and 
Italian Cinema may be considered a complement. This new book contains, for 
the first time in English, all of Bazins writing about neorealism (writing that 
he himself never collected in French), a movement that had a profound global 
impact on the evolution of cinematic style and subject matter during the post- 
World War II period. For this reason, André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 
performs a scholarly, consolidating service of great benefit to students and 
teachers of film. 

This new collection addresses such prominent directors as Vittorio De Sica, 
Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Pietro 
Germi; lesser known but important films such as The Roof, Forbidden Christ, 
and Love in the City, as well as major works like Umberto D. and Senso; and 
vital topics like realism versus reality, film censorship, neorealisms eclipse 
amid postwar Italys economic prosperity, and the relationship between 
neorealism and comedy, on the one hand, and neorealism and propaganda, on 
the other. André Bazin and Italian Neorealism also features a sizable scholarly 
apparatus: including an extensive index, a contextual introduction to Bazins 
life and work, a Bazin bibliography in French and English, a bibliography of 



Defining the Real: The Film Theory and Criticism of André Bazin 17 

critical writings on Italian neorealism, and complete credits for the films of 
Italian neorealism (including precursors and successors). This volume thus 
represents a major contribution to the still growing academic discipline of 
cinema studies. 

Yet André Bazin and Italian Neorealism is aimed, as Bazin would want, not 
only at scholars, teachers, and critics of film, but also at educated or culti- 
vated moviegoers and students of the cinema at all levels. In his modesty and 
simplicity André Bazin considered himself such a student, such an "inter- 
ested" filmgoer, and it is to the spirit of his humility before the god of cinema, 
as well as to the steadfastness of his courage in life, that this book is dedicated. 



Izmir University of Economics, Turkey 



Chapter Two 

What Is Neorealism? 



BY BERT CARDULLO 




Korne, Open City, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1945. 



18 



What Is Neorealism? 



19 



The term "neorealism" was first applied by the critic Antonio Pietrangeli to 
Luchino Viscontis Ossessione (1942), and the style came to fruition in the 
mid-to-late forties in such films of Roberto Rossellini, Visconti, and Vittorio 
De Sica as Rome, Open City (1945), Shoeshine (1946), Paisan (1946), Bicycle 
Thieves (1948), and The Earth Trembles (1948). These pictures reacted not 
only against the banality that had long been the dominant mode of Italian 
cinema, but also against prevailing socioeconomic conditions in Italy. With 
minimal resources, the neorealist filmmakers worked in real locations using 
local people as well as professional actors; they improvised their scripts, 
as need be, on site; and their films conveyed a powerful sense of the plight 
of ordinary individuals oppressed by political circumstances beyond their 
control. Thus Italian neorealism was the first postwar cinema to liberate 
filmmaking from the artificial confines of the studio and, by extension, from 
the Hollywood-originated studio system. But neorealism was the expression 
of an entire moral or ethical philosophy, as well, and not simply just another 
new cinematic style. 

Still, the post-World War II birth or creation of neorealism was anything 
but a collective theoretical enterprise — the origins of Italian neorealist cinema 
were far more complex than that. Generally stated, its roots were political, 




The Earth Trembles, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1948. 



20 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



in that neorealism reacted ideologically to the control and censorship of the 
prewar cinema; aesthetic, for the intuitive, imaginative response of neorealist 
directors coincided with the rise or resurgence of realism in Italian literature, 
particularly the novels of Italo Calvino, Alberto Moravia, Cesare Pavese, Elio 
Vittorini, and Vasco Pratolini (a realism that can be traced to the veristic 
style first cultivated in the Italian cinema between 1913 and 1916, when films 
inspired by the writings of Giovanni Verga and others dealt with human 
problems as well as social themes in natural settings); and economic, in that 
this new realism posed basic solutions to the lack of production funds, of 
functioning studios, and of working equipment. 

Indeed, what is sometimes overlooked in the growth of the neorealist 
movement in Italy is the fact that some of its most admired aspects sprang 
from the dictates of postwar adversity: a shortage of money made shooting in 
real locations an imperative choice over the use of expensive studio sets; and 
against such locations any introduction of the phony or the fake would appear 
glaringly obvious, whether in the appearance of the actors or the style of the 
acting. It must have been paradoxically exhilarating for neorealist filmmakers 
to be able to stare unflinchingly at the tragic spectacle of a society in shambles, 
its values utterly shattered, after years of making nice little movies approved by 
the powers that were within the walls of Cinecittå. 




Obsession, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1942. 



What Is Neorealism? 



21 



In fact, it was the Fascists who, in 1937, opened Cinecittå, the largest and 
best-equipped movie studio in all of Europe. Like the German Nazis and 
the Russian Communists, the Italian Fascists realized the power of cinema 
as a medium of propaganda, and when they came to power, they took over 
the film industry. Although this meant that those who opposed Fascism 
could not make movies and that foreign pictures were censored, the Fascists 
helped to establish the essential requirements for a flourishing postwar film 
industry. They even founded (in 1935) a film school, the Centro Sperimentale 
in Rome, which was headed by Luigi Chiarini and taught all aspects of 
movie production. Many important neorealist directors attended this school, 
including Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luigi Zampa, Pietro Germi, 
and Giuseppe De Santis (but not De Sica); it also produced cameramen, 
editors, and technicians. Moreover, Chiarini was allowed to publish Bianco e 
Nero (Black and White), the film journal that later became the official voice 
of neorealism. Once Mussolini fell from power, then, the stage was set for the 
development of a strong left-wing cinema. 

The Axis defeat happened to transform the Italian film industry into a 
close approximation of the ideal market of classical economists: a multitude 
of small producers engaged in fierce competition. There were no clearly 
dominant firms among Italian movie producers, and in fact the Italian 
film industry as a whole exhibited considerable weakness. The very atomi- 
zation and weakness of a privately-owned and profit-oriented motion-picture 
industry, however, led to a de facto tolerance toward the left-wing ideology of 
neorealism. In addition, the political climate of postwar Italy was favorable 
to the rise of cinematic neorealism, since this artistic movement was initially 
a product of the spirit of resistance fostered by the Partisan movement. The 
presence of Nenni Socialists (Pietro Nenni was Minister of Foreign Affairs) 
and Communists in the Italian government from 1945 to 1947 contributed 
to the governmental tolerance of neorealisms left-wing ideology, as did the 
absence of censorship during the period from 1945 to 1949. 

Rossellinis Rome, Open City became the landmark film in the promulgation 
of neorealist ideology. It so completely reflected the moral and psychological 
atmosphere of its historical moment that this picture alerted both the public 
and the critics — on the international level (including the United States) as 
well as the national one — to a new direction in Italian cinema. Furthermore, 
the conditions of this pictures production (relatively little shooting in the 
studio, film stock bought on the black market and developed without the 
typical viewing of daily rushes, post-synchronization of sound to avoid 
laboratory costs, limited financial backing) did much to create many of the 
myths surrounding neorealism. With a daring combination of styles and 



22 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



tones — from the use of documentary footage to the deployment of the most 
blatant melodrama, from the deployment of comic relief to the depiction 
of the most tragic human events — Rossellini almost effortlessly captured 
forever the tension and drama of the Italian experience during the German 
Occupation and the Partisan struggle against the Nazi invasion. 




Korne, Open City, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1945. 



If, practically speaking, Rossellini at once introduced Italian cinematic 
neorealism to the world, De Sicas collaborator Cesare Zavattini — with whom 
he forged one of the most fruitful writer-director partnerships in the history 
of cinema — eventually became the theoretical spokesman for the neorealists. 
By his definition, neorealism does not concern itself with superficial themes 
and synthetic forms; in his famous manifesto "Some Ideas on the Cinema" 
(1952), Zavattini declared that the camera has a "hunger for reality," and that 
the invention of plots to make reality palatable or spectacular is a flight from 
the historical richness as well as the political importance of actual, everyday 
life. 

Although inconsistently or irregularly observed, the basic tenets of this new 
realism were threefold: to portray real or everyday people (using nonprofes- 
sional actors) in actual settings; to examine socially significant themes (the 
genuine problems of living); and to promote, not the arbitrary manipulation 



What Is Neorealism? 



23 



of events, but instead the organic development of situations (i.e., the real 
flow of life, in which complications are seldom resolved by coincidence, 
contrivance, or miracle). These tenets were clearly opposed to the prewar 
cinematic style that used polished actors on studio sets, conventional and even 
fatuous themes, and artificial, gratuitously resolved plots — the very style, of 
course, that De Sica himself had employed in the first four pictures he made, 
from 1940 to 1942 (Red Roses [1940], Maddalena, Zero for Conduct [1941], 
Teresa Venerdi [1941], and A Garibaldian in the Convent [1942]). 




The Children Are Watching Us, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1943. 

Unfortunately, this was the cinematic style that the Italian public continued 
to demand after the war, despite the fact that during it such precursors of 
neorealism as Viscontis Ossessione and De Sicas own fifth film, The Children 
Are Watching Us (1943), had offered a serious alternative. Indeed, it was as 
early as 1942, when Ossessione and The Children Are Watching Us were either 
being made or released, that the idea of the cinema was being transformed 
in Italy. Around the same time, Gianni Franciolinis Headlights in the Fog 
(1941) was portraying infidelity among truck drivers and seamstresses, while 
Alessandro Blasettis Four Steps in the Clouds (1942) was being praised for 
its return to realism in a warm-hearted story of peasant life shot in natural 
settings. 



24 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Obsession, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1942. 



Influenced by French cinematic realism as well as by prevailing Italian 
literary trends, Ossessione, for its part, was shot on location in the region 
of Romagna; its atmosphere and plot (based on James M. Cains novel The 
Postman Always Rings Twice [1934]), moreover, were seamy in addition to 
steamy, and did not adhere to the polished, resolved structures of conven- 
tional Italian movies. Viscontis film was previewed in the spring of 1943 and 
quickly censored, not to be appreciated until after the war. 

In its thematic attempt to reveal the underside of Italy s moral life, shared 
with Ossessione, The Children Are Watching Us itself was indicative of a rising 
new vision in Italian cinema. In exhibiting semi-documentary qualities 
by being shot partially on location at the beaches of Alassio and by using 
nonprofessional actors in some roles, The Children Are Watching Us was, 
again along with Ossessione as well as the aforementioned pictures by Blasetti 
and Franciolini, a precursor of the neorealism that would issue forth after the 
liberation of occupied Rome. 

De Sicas film was not a financial success, however, and its negative 
reception was in part engineered by those who saw it as an impudent criticism 
of Italian morality. The unfavorable reaction to The Children Are Watching Us 
was also influenced, of course, by the strictures of the past: during the era of 
Mussolinis regime and "white telephone" movies (the term applied to trivial 
romantic comedies set in blatantly artificial studio surroundings symbolized 
by the ever-present white telephone), an insidious censorship had made it 
almost impossible for artists to deal with — and for audiences to appreciate — 
the moral, social, political, and spiritual components of actual, everyday life. 



What Is Neorealism? 



25 




The Children Are Watching Us, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1943. 



After the Second World War, a different kind of "censorship" obtained: that 
of the lira. For, in 1946, viewers wanted to spend their hard-earned lire on 
Hollywood movies through which they could escape their everyday lives, not 
on films that realistically depicted the effects of war — effects that they already 
knew only too well through direct experience. 

Italian audiences, it seems, were reluctant to respond without prompting 
to an indigenous neorealist cinema intent on exploring the postwar themes 
of rampant unemployment, inadequate housing, and neglected children, 
in alternately open-ended and tragic dramatic structures populated by 
mundane nonprofessional actors instead of glamorous stars. (Indeed, one 
reason for neorealisms ultimate decline was that its aesthetic principle of 
using nonprofessional actors conflicted with the economic interests of the 
various organizations of professional Italian actors.) It was the unexceptional, 
not the extraordinary, man in which neorealism was interested — above all 
in the socioeconomic interaction of that man with his environment, not the 
exploration of his psychological problems or complexities. And to pursue 
that interest, neorealist cinema had to place such a man in his own straitened 
circumstances. Hence no famous monument or other tourist attraction shows 
that the action of De Sicas Bicycle Thieves or Shoeshine, for example, takes 



26 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



place in Rome; furthermore, instead of the citys ancient ruins, we get contem- 
porary ones: drab, run-down city streets, ugly, dilapidated houses, and dusty, 
deserted embankments that look out on a sluggish, dirty river Tiber. 




Shoeshine, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1946. 



As for the Italian governments own response to the settings, characters, 
and plots of neorealist films, in January 1952, Giulio Andreotti, State 
Undersecretary and head of the Direzione Generale dello Spettacolo (a 
powerful position that had direct influence on government grants as well 
as censorship, and that led ultimately to the right-wing Andreottis own 
corruption, exposure, and disgrace), published an open letter in Libertas (a 
Christian-Democratic weekly) bitterly deploring the neorealist trend in the 
Italian cinema and its negative image of the country — a letter that was quickly 
reprinted in other journals. Andreotti took direct aim at De Sica, who was 
castigated for exhibiting a subversively "pessimistic vision" and exhorted to be 
more "constructively optimistic." (De Sica later stated that if he had had to do 
Umberto D. [1952], for one, over again, he would have changed nothing except 
to remove the "uplifting" final shots of children playing — precisely the kind of 
"positive" conclusion Andreotti seemed to be calling for.) 

It was this atmosphere of interventionist government criticism that 
hampered the exportation of neorealist films during the 1950s; the "Andreotti 



What Is Neorealism? 



27 



Law" of 1949 had established wide government control over the financing and 
censorship of films, including a right to ban the export of any Italian movie 
that Andreotti himself judged "might give an erroneous view of the true 
nature of our country." In November 1955 the "Manifesto of Italian Cinema" 
was published in response to Andreottis Libertas letter by the French journal 
Positif—a manifesto that spoke out against movie censorship and was signed 
by the leaders of Italian neorealism, with the names of De Sica and Zavattini 
prominent among the signatures. By this time, however, postwar neore- 
alism was rapidly waning as the burning social and political causes that had 
stimulated the movement were to some extent alleviated or glossed over by 
increasing prosperity. In a society becoming ever more economically as well 
as politically conservative, nobody wanted to throw away his capital on yet 
another tale of hardship and heartbreak on the side streets of Rome. 

Although neorealism was gradually phased out of the Italian cinema in the 
early 1950s as economic conditions improved and film producers succumbed 
to the growing demand for escapist entertainment, the movements effects 
have been far-reaching. One can trace neorealisms influence back to the entire 
postwar tradition of films about children, from Luis Bunuels Los Olvidados 
(1950), René Cléments Forbidden Games (1952), and Kjell Gredes Hugo and 
Josephine (1967) to Kobei Oguns Muddy River (1981), Hector Babencos Pixote 
(1981), and Mira Nairs Salaam Bombay! (1988); one can also trace neorealisms 
influence beyond the twentieth century into the twenty-first, in such childrens 
films as Mahamat-Saleh Harouns Abouna (2002), Hirokazu Kore-edas Nobody 
Knows (2004), and Andrei Kravchuks The Italian (2005). It could even be argued 
that Francois Truffauts TheFourHundredBlows (1959) owes as much to De Sicas 
Shoeshine as to the following films of his fellow Frenchmen: Jean Vigos Zero for 
Conduct (1933), Jean Benoit-Lévys La Maternelle (1932), Julien Duviviers Poil 
de carotte (1932), and Louis Daquins Portrait oflnnocence (1941). 

Most recently, the Iranian cinema has confirmed the neorealist legacy in 
such pictures (some of them also concerned with the lives of children) as 
Kianoush Ayaris The Abadanis (1993), a virtual reworking of Bicycle Thieves 
in contemporary Tehran; Abbas Kiarostamis Koker trilogy (1987-1994) 
presenting a documentary-style look at mountain life in northern Iran 
before and after the terrible earthquake of 1990, particularly the first of 
these three films, titled Where Is the Friends House?; Jafar Panahis The White 
Balloon (1995); Majid Majidis The Children of Heaven (1997); and Samira 
Makhmalbafs The Apple (1998). 

Neorealisms influence on French New Wave directors like Truffaut is a 
matter of record, but its impact on the American cinema has generally been 
ignored. For, in the postwar work of American moviemakers as diverse as 



28 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Nicholas Ray (They Live by Night, 1948), Elia Kazan (Boomerang!, 1947), Jules 
Dassin (The Naked City, 1948), Joseph Losey (The Lawless, 1950), Robert 
Rossen (Body and Soul, 1947), and Edward Dymytryk (Crossfire, 1947), 
stylistic elements of neorealism can be found together with neorealisms 
thematic concern with social and political problems. The Italian movement 
has even had a profound impact on filmmakers in countries that once lacked 
strong national cinemas of their own, such as India, where Satyajit Ray 
adopted a typically neorealist stance in his Apu trilogy, outstanding among 
whose three films is Pather Panchali (1955). 

In Italy itself, neorealist principles were perpetuated first by Federico Fellini 
and Michelangelo Antonioni. De Sica himself exerted a profound influence on 
both of these directors: to wit, with its grotesque processions of fancily as well 
as raggedly dressed extras against an almost abstract horizon, Miracle in Milan 
(1951) is "Fellinian" two or more years before Fellini became so; and without 
De Sicas unembellished portrait of modern-day alienation in Umberto D. — 
his astringent detachment and strict avoidance of sentimentalism — a later 
portrait of alienation such as Antonionis La notte (1960) seems almost 
inconceivable. 

Neorealist principles were perpetuated not only by Fellini and Antonioni 
but also by the first as well as the second generation of filmmakers to succeed 
them. Among members of the first generation we may count Ermanno Olmi, 
with his compassionate studies of working-class life like II posto (1961), and 
Francesco Rosi, with his vigorous attacks on the abuse of power such as 
Salvatore Giuliano (1961). These two directors are joined, among others, by 
Pier Paolo Pasolini (Accattone, 1961), Vittorio De Seta (Bandits of Orgosolo, 
1961), Marco Bellocchio (Fist in His Pocket, 1965), and the Taviani brothers, 
Vittorio and Paolo (Padre Padrone, 1977). And these filmmakers themselves 
have been followed by Gianni Amelio (Stolen Children, 1990), Nanni Moretti 
(The Mass Is Ended, 1988), Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso, 1988), and 
Maurizio Nichetti (The Icicle Thief, 1989), to name only the most prominent 
beneficiaries of neorealisms influence. 

What happened to neorealism, then, after the disappearance of the forces 
that produced it — World War II, the resistance, and the liberation, followed 
by the postwar reconstruction of a once morally, politically, and economically 
devastated society? Instead of itself disappearing, neorealism changed its form 
(depending on the filmmaker and the film) but not its profoundly humanistic 
concerns. Indeed, I think we can confidently say by now that neorealism is 
eternally, as well as universally, "neo" or new. 



Chapter Three 



"Cinematic Realism and 
the Italian School of the 
Liberation" 



"Le réalisme cinématographique et lecole italienne de la liberation," from HEsprit 
(January 1948), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 
9-37; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), pp. 257-281; 
translated into English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 (Univ. of California 
Press, 1971), pp. 16-40, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

The historical importance of Rossellinis film Paiså (1946) has been rightly 
compared with that of a number of classical screen masterpieces. Georges 
Sadoul has not hesitated to mention it alongside Murnaus Nosferatu (1922), 
Langs Die Nibelungen (1924), or von Stroheims Greed (1924). I subscribe 
wholeheartedly to this high praise as long as the allusion to German expres- 
sionism is understood to refer to the level of greatness of the film but not to 
the profound nature of the aesthetics involved. A better comparison might 
be with the appearance in 1925 of Eisensteins Battleship Potemkin. For the 
rest, the realism of the current Italian films has been frequently contrasted 
with the aestheticism of American and, in part, of French productions. Was 
it not from the outset their search for realism that characterized the Russian 
films of Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Dovzhenko as revolutionary both in art 
and politics, in contrast to the expressionist aestheticism of the German films 
and Hollywoods mawkish star worship? Paiså, Sciusciå (1946) and Roma, 
cittå aperta (1945), like Potemkin, mark a new stage in the long-standing 
opposition between realism and aestheticism on the screen. But history 
does not repeat itself; we have to get clear the particular form this aesthetic 



29 



30 André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



quarrel assumes today, the new solutions to which Italian neorealism owed its 
triumph in 1947. 




Rome, Open City, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1945. 



THE PRECURSORS 

Confronted with the originality of the Italian output, and in the enthusiasm 
engendered by the surprise that this has caused, we have perhaps neglected 
to go deeply into the origins of this renaissance, preferring to see it rather 
as something spontaneously generated, issuing like a swarm of bees from 
the decaying corpses of fascism and the war. There is no question that the 
Liberation and the social, moral, and economic forms that it assumed in Italy 
have played a decisive role in film production. We shall return to this later. It 
was simply a lack of information about the Italian cinema that trapped us into 
believing in a sudden miracle. 

It could well be that, today, Italy is the country where the understanding of 
film is at its highest, to judge by the importance and the quality of the film 
output. The Centro Sperimentale at Rome [founded 1935] came into existence 
before our own Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques [founded 
1943]; above all, intellectual speculation in Italy is not, as it is in France, 
without its impact on filmmaking. Radical separation between criticism and 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 31 

direction no more exists in the Italian cinema than it does in France in the 
world of literature. 

Furthermore, fascism which, unlike Nazism, allowed for the existence of 
artistic pluralism, was particularly concerned with cinema. One may have 
reservations about the connection between the Venice Film Festival and the 
political interests of the Duce but one cannot deny that the idea of an interna- 
tional festival has subsequently made good, and one can measure its prestige 
today by the fact that five or six European countries are vying for the spoils. 
The capitalists and the Fascist authorities at least provided Italy with modern 
studios. If they turned out films which were ridiculously melodramatic and 
overly spectacular, that did not prevent a handful of right men, smart enough 
to shoot films on current themes without making any concessions to the 
regime, from making high-quality films that foreshadowed their current 
work. If during the war we had not been, albeit justifiably, so prejudiced, films 
like S.O.S. 103 (1941) or La nave bianca (1941) of Rossellini might have caught 
our attention more. In addition, even when capitalist or political stupidity 
controlled commercial production completely, intelligence, culture, and 
experimental research took refuge in publications, in film archive congresses, 
and in making short films. In 1941, Lattuada, the director of II bandito (1946) 
and, at the time, the head of the Milan archive, barely escaped jail for showing 
the complete version of La grande illusion (1937). (The influence of Jean 
Renoir on the Italian cinema is paramount and definitive. Only that of René 
Clair in any way approaches it.) 

Beyond that, the history of the Italian cinema is little known. We stop 
short at Giovanni Pastrones Cabiria (1914) and Enrico Guazzonis Quo Vadis 
(1912), tinding in the recent and memorable La corona di ferro (1941) all 
the proof we need that the supposed characteristics of films made beyond 
the Alps remain unchanged: a taste, and a poor taste at that, for sets, ideali- 
zation of the principal actors, childish emphasis on acting, atrophy of mise en 
scene, the dragging in of the traditional paraphernalia of bel canto and opera, 
conventional scripts influenced by the theater, the romantic melodrama and 
the chanson de geste reduced to an adventure story. Undoubtedly too many 
Italian films do their best to justify such a caricature and too many directors, 
including some of the best, sacrificed themselves, sometimes with self-irony, 
to commercial necessity. The great spectacles like Carmine Gallones Scipio 
Africanus (1937) were, of course, the primary export. There was another 
artistic vein, however, almost exclusively reserved for the home market. 
Today, when the thunder of the charging elephants of Scipio is only a distant 
rumble, we can the better lend an ear to the discreet but delightful sounds 
made by Quattro passi fra le nuvole (1942). 



32 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The reader, at least one who has seen this latter film, will undoubtedly be as 
surprised as we were to learn that this comedy with its unfettered sensibility, 
brimming over with poetry, the lightly handled social realism of which is 
directly related to the recent Italian cinema, was shot in 1942, two years after 
the famous La corona diferro and by the same director: Alessandro Blasetti, to 
whom, about the same time, we owe Unavventura di SalvatorRosa (1939) and 
most recently Un giorno nella vita (1946). Directors like Vittorio De Sica, who 
made the admirable Sciusciå, were always concerned to turn out human and 
sensitive comedies full of realism, among them, in 1943, 1 bambini ciguardano. 
Since 1932, Mario Camerini has made Gli uomini, che mascalzoni! (1932), the 
action of which, like Roma, cittå aperta, is laid in the streets of the capital, and 
Mario Soldati has filmed Piccolo mondo antico (1940), no less typically Italian. 

As a matter of fact, there are not so many new names among the directors 
in Italy today. The youngest, like Rossellini, started to make films at the 
beginning of the war. Older directors, like Blasetti and Mario Soldati, were 
already known in the early days of the talkies. But let us not go from one 
extreme to the other and conclude that there is no such thing as a new 
Italian school. The realist trend, the domestic, satirical, and social descrip- 
tions of everyday life, the sensitive and poetic verism, were, before the war, 
minor qualities, modest violets flowering at the feet of the giant sequoias of 
production. It appears that from the beginning of the war, a light began to 
be shed on the papier-måché forests. In La corona di ferro the style seems to 
parody itself. Rossellini, Lattuada, and Blasetti were striving toward a realism 
of international importance. Nevertheless, it is the Liberation that set these 
aesthetic trends so completely free as to allow them to develop under new 
conditions that were destined to have their share in inducing a noticeable 
change in direction and meaning. 

THE LIBERATION: RUPTURE AND RENAISSANCE 

Some components of the new Italian school existed before the Liberation: 
personnel, techniques, aesthetic trends. But it was their historical, social, 
and economic combination that suddenly created a synthesis in which new 
elements also made themselves manifest. Over the past two years, Resistance 
and Liberation have furnished the principal themes, but unlike the French, 
and indeed one might say unlike the European cinema as a whole, Italian films 
have not been limited to themes of the Resistance. In France, the Resistance 
immediately became legendary. Recent as it was, on the day of the actual 
Liberation it already belonged to the realm of history. The Germans having 
departed, life began again. 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 



33 



By contrast, in Italy the Liberation did not signify a return to the old and 
recent freedom; it meant political revolution, Allied occupation, economic 
and social upheaval. The Liberation came slowly through endless months. It 
had a profound effect on the economic, social, and moral life of the country. 
Thus, in Italy, Resistance and Liberation, unlike the Paris uprising, are in no 
sense just words with an historical connotation. When Rossellini made Paiså, 
his script was concerned with things actually happening at the time. II bandito 
showed how prostitution and the black market developed on the heels of the 
advancing army, how disillusion and lack of employment turned a liberated 
prisoner into a gangster. Except for unmistakable Resistance films like Vivere 
in pace (1946) or II sole sorge ancora (1947), the Italian cinema was noted for 
its concern with actual day-to-day events. 

The French critics had not failed to emphasize (whether in praise or blame 
but always with solemn surprise) the few specific allusions to the postwar 
period that Carné deliberately introduced into his last film. If the director 
and his writer took so much trouble to make us understand this, it is because 
nineteen out of twenty French films cannot be dated within a decade. On 
the other hand, even when the central scene of the script is not concerned 
with an actual occurrence, Italian films are first and foremost reconstituted 
reportage. The action could not unfold in just any social context, historically 
neutral, partly abstract like the setting of a tragedy, as so frequently happens 
to varying degrees with the American, French, or English cinema. As a result, 
the Italian films have an exceptionally documentary quality that could not be 
removed from the script without thereby eliminating the whole social setting 
into which its roots are so deeply sunk. 

This perfect and natural adherence to actuality is explained and justified 
from within by a spiritual attachment to the period. Undoubtedly, the tide of 
recent Italian history cannot be reversed. Thus, the war is felt to be not an 
interlude but the end of an era. In one sense Italy is only three years old. But 
other effects could have resulted from the same cause. What is a ceaseless 
source of wonder, ensuring the Italian cinema a wide moral audience among 
the Western nations, is the significance it gives to the portrayal of actuality. 
In a world already once again obsessed by terror and hate, in which reality 
is scarcely any longer favored for its own sake but rather is rejected or 
excluded as a political symbol, the Italian cinema is certainly the only 
one which preserves, in the midst of the period it depicts, a revolutionary 
humanism. 



34 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



LOVE AND REJECTION OF REALITY 

The recent Italian films are at least prerevolutionary. They all reject implicitly 
or explicitly, with humor, satire, or poetry, the reality they are using, but they 
know better, no matter how clear the stand tåken, than to treat this reality as 
a medium or a means to an end. To condemn it does not of necessity mean 
to be in bad faith. They never forget that the world is, quite simply, before it is 
something to be condemned. It is silly and perhaps as naive as Beaumarchaiss 
praise of the tears induced by melodrama. But does one not, when coming out 
of an Italian film, feel better, an urge to change the order of things, preferably 
by persuading people, at least those who can be persuaded, whom only 
blindness, prejudice, or ill-fortune had led to harm their fellow men? 

That is why, when one reads résumés of them, the scenarios of many Italian 
films are open to ridicule. Reduced to their plots, they are often just moral- 
izing melodramas, but on the screen everybody in the film is overwhelmingly 
real. Nobody is reduced to the condition of an object or a symbol that would 
allow one to hate them in comfort without having first to leap the hurdle 
of their humanity. I am prepared to see the fundamental humanism of the 
current Italian films as their chief merit. They offer an opportunity to savor, 
before the time finally runs out on us, a revolutionary flavor in which terror 
has yet no part. 

That said, I do not hide from myself the astute political role more or less 
consciously concealed under this communicative generosity. It could happen 
that tomorrow the priest in Roma, cittå aperta and the Communist former 
member of the Resistance might not get on so well. It could happen that the 
Italian cinema might soon become political and partisan. There might be a 
few half-lies hidden somewhere in all this. The cleverly pro-American Paiså 
was shot by Christian Democrats and Communists. But it is not being a dupe, 
it is simply being sensible to accept in a work what is in it. At the moment 
the Italian cinema is more sociological than political. By that I mean that 
such concrete social realities as poverty, the black market, the administration, 
prostitution, and unemployment do not seem to have given place in the 
public conscience to the a priori values of politics. Italian films rarely tell us 
the political party of the director or whom he is intending to flatter. This state 
of affairs derives doubtless from ethnic temperament, but it also derives from 
the political situation in Italy and what is customary in the Communist party 
on that peninsula. 

Political associations apart, this revolutionary humanism has its source 
likewise in a certain consideration for the individual; the masses are but rarely 
considered to be a positive social force. When they are mentioned it is usually 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 35 

in order to demonstrate their destructive and negative character vis-å-vis the 
heroes: the theme of the man in the crowd. From this point of view the two 
latest important Italian films, Caccia tragica ( 1 947) and II sole sorge ancora, are 
significant exceptions, indicating perhaps a new trend. The director De Santis, 
who worked very closely with Vergano as his assistant on II sole sorge ancora, 
is the only one ever to take a group of men, a collective, as the protagonist of 
a drama. 

AN AMALGAM OF PLAYERS 

What naturally first struck the public was the high quality of the acting. Roma, 
cittå aperta enriched the worlds screen with a performer of the first order, 
Anna Magnani the unforgettable pregnant young woman, Fabrizi the priest, 
Pagliero a member of the Resistance, and others whose performances rival 
in retrospect the most stirring of film characterizations in the past. Reports 
and news items in the public press naturally made a point of letting us know 
that Sciuscå was filled with genuine street urchins, that Rossellini shot crowds 
tåken at random at the scene of the action, that the heroine of the first story of 
Paiså was an illiterate girl discovered on the dockside. As for Anna Magnani, 
admittedly she was a professional but from the world of the café-concert. 
Maria Michi, well, she was just a little girl who worked in a movie house. 

Although this type of casting is unusual in films, it is not new. On the 
contrary, its continual use, by various realistic schools ever since the days 
of Lumiére, shows it to be a true law of the cinema, which the Italian school 
simply confirms and allows us to formulate with conviction. In the old days 
of the Russian cinema, too, we admired its preference for nonprofessional 
actors who played on the screen the roles of their daily lives. Actually, a legend 
has grown up around the Russian films. The theater had a strong influence 
on certain Soviet schools and although the early films of Eisenstein had no 
professional actors, as realistic a film as Nikolai Ekks The Road to Life (1931) 
was in fact played by professionals from the theater, and ever since then the 
actors in Soviet films have continued to be professionals, just as they have in 
other countries. 

No major cinematographic school between 1925 and the present Italian 
cinema can boast of the absence of actors, but from time to time a film outside 
the ordinary run will remind us of the advantage of not using them. Such a 
film will always be only slightly removed from a social document. Take two 
examples: VEspoir (1945) and La derniére chance (1945). Around them, too, 
a legend has grown up. The heroes in the André Malraux film are not all 
part-time actors called on for the moment to play their day-to-day selves. It 



36 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



is true that some of them are, but not the principal characters. The peasant, 
for example, was a well-known Madrid comic actor. As regards Leopold 
Lindtbergs La derniére chance, the Allied soldiers were actually airmen shot 
down over Switzerland, but the Jewish woman was a stage actress. Only 
productions like F. W. Murnaus Tabu (1931) are entirely without professional 
actors, but here, as in childrens films, we are dealing with a special genre in 
which a professional actor would be almost unthinkable. 

More recently, Georges Rouquier in Farrebique (1946) set out to play the 
game to the hilt. While noting his success, let us also note that it is practically 
unique and that the problems presented by a peasant film, so far as the acting 
is concerned, are no different from those of an exotic film. So far from being 
an example to be followed, Farrebique is a special case in no way invalidating 
the law that I propose to call the law of the amalgam. It is not the absence of 
professional actors that is, historically, the hallmark of social realism or of 
the Italian film. Rather, it is specifically the rejection of the star concept and 
the casual mixing of professionals and of those who just act occasionally. It is 
important to avoid casting the professional in the role for which he is known. 
The public should not be burdened with any preconceptions. It is significant 
that the peasant in L'Espoir was a theater comedian, Anna Magnani a singer 
of popular songs, and Fabrizi a music-hall clown. 

That someone is an actor thus does not mean he must not be used. Quite 
the opposite. But his professionalism should be called into service only insofar 
as it allows him to be more flexible in his response to the requirements of the 
mise en scene, and to have a better grasp of the character. The nonprofessionals 
are naturally chosen for their suitability for the part, either because they fit it 
physically or because there is some parallel between the role and their lives. 
When the amalgamation comes off— but experience shows that it will not 
unless some "moral" requirements are met in the script — the result is precisely 
that extraordinary feeling of truth that one gets from the current Italian films. 
Their faithfulness to a script which stirs them deeply and which calls for the 
minimum of theatrical pretense sets up a kind of osmosis among the east. 
The technical inexperience of the amateur is helped out by the experience of 
the professionals, while the professionals themselves benefit from the general 
atmosphere of authenticity. 

However, if a method so beneficent to the art of the cinema has only been 
employed here and there, it is because unfortunately it contains within itself 
the seeds of its own destruction. The chemical balance of the amalgam is of 
necessity unstable, and nothing can prevent it from evolving to the point 
at which it reintroduces the aesthetic dilemma it originally solved — that 
between the enslavement of the star and the documentary without actors. 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 



37 



This disintegration can be observed most clearly and quickly in childrens 
films or films using native peoples. Little Rari of Tabu, they say ended up as 
a prostitute in Poland, and we all know what happens to children raised to 
stardom by their first film. At best they turn out to be infant actor prodigies, 
but that is something else again. Indispensable as are the factors of inexpe- 
rience and naiveté, obviously they cannot survive repetition. One cannot 
envisage the Farrebique family appearing in half a dozen films and finally 
being signed up by Hollywood. 

As for the professionals who are not stars, the process of disintegration 
operates a little difFerently. The public is to blame. While an accepted star 
is received everywhere as himself, the success of a film is apt to identify the 
ordinary actor with the role he plays in it. Producers are only too glad to 
repeat a success by catering to the well-known public fondness for seeing 
their favorite actors in their established roles. And even if an actor has sense 
enough to avoid being confined to a single role, it is still a fact that his face and 
some recurring mannerisms in his acting having become familiar will prevent 
the amalgam with nonprofessionals from taking place. 

AESTHETICISM, REALISM, AND REALITY 

Faithfulness to everyday life in the scenario, truth to his part in an actor, 
however, are simply the basic materials of the aesthetic of the Italian film. 
One must beware of contrasting aesthetic refinement and a certain crudeness, 
a certain instant effectiveness of a realism which is satisfied just to present 
reality. In my view, one merit of the Italian film will be that it has demon- 
strated that every realism in art was first profoundly aesthetic. One always felt 
it was so, but in the reverberations of the accusations of witchcraft that some 
people today are making against actors suspected of a pact with the demon of 
art for arts sake, one has tended to forget it. The real like the imaginary in art 
is the concern of the artist alone. The flesh and blood of reality are no easier 
to capture in the net of literature or cinema than are gratuitous flights of the 
imagination. Or to put it another way, even when inventions and complexity 
of forms are no longer being applied to the actual content of the work, they 
do not cease thereby to have an influence on the effectiveness of the means. 

Because the Soviet cinema was too forgetful of this, it slipped in twenty 
years from first to last place among the great film-producing nations. Potemkin 
turned the cinema world upside down not just because of its political message, 
not even because it replaced the studio plaster sets with real settings and the star 
with an anonymous crowd, but because Eisenstein was the greatest montage 
theoretician of his day, because he worked with Tisse, the finest cameraman of 



38 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



his day, and because Russia was the focal point of cinematographic thought — 
in short, because the "realist" films Russia turned out secreted more aesthetic 
know-how than all the sets and performances and lighting and artistic inter- 
pretation of the artiest works of German expressionism. It is the same today 
with the Italian cinema. There is nothing aesthetically retrogressive about its 
neorealism; on the contrary, there is progress in expression, a triumphant 
evolution of the language of cinema, an extension of its stylistics. 

Let us first take a good look at the cinema to see where it stands today. Since 
the expressionist heresy came to an end, particularly after the arrival of sound, 
one may take it that the general trend of cinema has been toward realism. 
Let us agree, by and large, that film sought to give the spectator as perfect 
an illusion of reality as possible within the limits of the logical demands of 
cinematographic narrative and of the current limits of technique. Thus the 
cinema stands in contrast to poetry, painting, and theater, and comes ever 
closer to the novel. It is not my intention here to justify this basic aesthetic 
trend of modem cinema, be it on technical, psychological, or economic 
grounds. I simply state it for this once without thereby pre-judging either the 
intrinsic validity of such an evolution or the extent to which it is final. But, 
realism in art can only be achieved in one way — through artifice. 

Every form of aesthetic must necessarily choose between what is worth 
preserving and what should be discarded, and what should not even be 
considered. But when this aesthetic aims in essence at creating the illusion of 
reality, as does the cinema, this choice sets up a fundamental contradiction 
which is at once unacceptable and necessary: necessary because art can 
only exist when such a choice is made. Without it, supp osing total cinema 
was here and now technically possible, we would go back purely to reality. 
Unacceptable because it would be done definitely at the expense of that reality 
which the cinema proposes to restore integrally. That is why it would be 
absurd to resist every new technical development aiming to add to the realism 
of cinema, namely sound, color, and stereoscopy. 

Actually the "art" of cinema lives off this contradiction. It gets the most out 
of the potential for abstraction and symbolism provided by the present limits 
of the screen, but this utilization of the residue of conventions abandoned by 
technique can work either to the advantage or to the detriment of realism. It 
can magnify or neutralize the effectiveness of the elements of reality that the 
camera captures. One might group, if not classify in order of importance, the 
various styles of cinematography in terms of the added measure of reality. We 
would define as "realist," then, all narrative means tending to bring an added 
measure of reality to the screen. Reality is not to be tåken quantitatively. 
The same event, the same object, can be represented in various ways. Each 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 



39 



representation discards or retains various of the qualities that permit us to 
recognize the object on the screen. Each introduces, for didactic or aesthetic 
reasons, abstractions that operate more or less corrosively and thus do not 
permit the original to subsist in its entirety. 

At the conclusion of this inevitable and necessary "chemical" action, for 
the initial reality there has been substituted an illusion of reality composed 
of a complex of abstraction (black and white, plane surface), of conventions 
(the rules of montage, for example), and of authentic reality. It is a necessary 
illusion but it quickly induces a loss of awareness of the reality itself, which 
becomes identified in the mind of the spectator with its cinematographic 
representation. As for the filmmaker, the moment he has secured this 
unwitting complicity of the public, he is increasingly tempted to ignore reality. 
From habit and laziness he reaches the point when he himself is no longer able 
to tell where lies begin or end. There could never be any question of calling 
him a liar because his art consists in lying. He is just no longer in control of 
his art. He is its dupe, and hence he is held back from any further conquest 
of reality. 

FROM CITIZEN KANE TO FARREBIQUE 

Recent years have brought a noticeable evolution of the aesthetic of cinema in 
the direction of realism. The two most significant events in this evolution in 
the history of the cinema since 1940 are Orson Welless Citizen Kane (1941) 
and Paiså. Both mark a decisive step forward in the direction of realism but 
by different paths. If I bring up the film of Orson Welles before I analyze the 
stylistics of the Italian film, it is because it will allow us to place the latter in its 
true perspective. Welles restored to cinematographic illusion a fundamental 
quality of reality — its continuity. Classical editing, deriving from Griffith, 
separated reality into successive shots which were just a series of either logical 
or subjective points of view of an event. A man locked in a cell is waiting 
for the arrival of his executioner. His anguished eyes are on the door. At the 
moment the executioner is about to enter we can be quite sure that the director 
will cut to a close shot of the door handle as it slowly turns. This close-up is 
justified psychologically by the victims concentration on the symbol of his 
extreme distress. It is this ordering of the shots, this conventional analysis 
of the reality continuum, that truly goes to make up the cinematographic 
language of the period. 

The construction thus introduces an obviously abstract element into reality. 
Because we are so used to such abstractions, we no longer sense them. Orson 
Welles started a revolution by systematically employing a depth of focus that 



40 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



had so far not been used. Whereas the camera lens, classically, had focused 
successively on different parts of the scene, the camera of Welles takes in with 
equal sharpness the whole field of vision contained simultaneously within the 
dramatic field. It is no longer the editing that selects what we see, thus giving 
it an a priori significance; it is the mind of the spectator which is forced to 
discern, as in a sort of parallelepiped or six-sided prism of reality with the 
screen as its cross-section, the dramatic spectrum proper to the scene. It is 
therefore to an intelligent use of a specific step forward that Citizen Kane owes 
its realism. Thanks to the depth of focus of the lens, Welles restored to reality 
its visible continuity. 

We clearly see with what elements of reality the cinema has enriched itself. 
But from other points of view, it is also evident that it has moved away from 
reality or at least that it gets no nearer to it than does the classical aesthetic. 
In ruling out, because of the complexity of his techniques, all recourse to 
nature in the raw, natural settings, exteriors, sunlight, and nonprofessional 
actors, Orson Welles rejects those qualities of the authentic document for 
which there is no substitute and which, being likewise a part of reality, can 
themselves establish a form of realism. 

Here, especially in urban settings, the Italians are at an undoubted advantage. 
The Italian city, ancient or modern, is prodigiously photogenic. From antiquity, 
Italian city planning has remained theatrical and decorative. City life is a 
spectacle, a commedia dellarte that the Italians stage for their own pleasure. 
And even in the poorest quarters of the town, the coral-like groupings of the 
houses, thanks to the terraces and balconies, offer outstanding possibilities 
for spectacle. The courtyard is an Elizabethan set in which the show is seen 
from below, the spectators in the gallery being the actors in the comedy. A 
poetic documentary was shown at Venice consisting entirely of an assemblage 
of shots of courtyards. What more can you say when the theatrical facades of 
the palazzi combine their operatic effects with the stage-like architecture of 
the houses of the poor? Add to this the sunshine and the absence of clouds 
(chief enemy of shooting on exteriors) and you have explained why the urban 
exteriors of Italian films are superior to all others. 

Let us contrast Citizen Kane and Farrebique — in the latter, a systematic 
determination to exclude everything that was not primarily natural material 
is precisely the reason why Rouquier failed in the area of technical perfection. 
Thus, the most realistic of the arts shares the common lot. It cannot make 
reality entirely its own because reality must inevitably elude it at some point. 
Undoubtedly an improved technique, skillfully applied, may narrow the holes 
of the net, but one is compelled to choose between one kind of reality and 
another. This sensitiveness resembles the sensitiveness of the retina. The nerve 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 



41 



endings that register color and intensity of light are not at all the same, the 
density of one being ordinarily in inverse ratio to that of the other. Animals 
that have no difficulty in making out the shape of their quarry in the dark are 
almost color blind. 

Between the contrasting but equally pure kinds of realism represented by 
Farrebique on the one hand and Citizen Kane on the other, there is a wide 
variety of possible combinations. For the rest, the margin of loss of the real, 
implicit in any realist choice, frequently allows the artist, through the use 
of any aesthetic convention he may introduce into the area thus left vacant, 
to increase the effectiveness of his chosen form of reality. Indeed, we have a 
remarkable example of this in the recent Italian cinema. In the absence of 
technical equipment, the Italian directors have been obliged to record the 
sound and dialogue after the actual filming. The net result is a loss of realism. 
However, left free to use the camera unfettered by the microphone, such 
directors have thereby profited by the occasion to enlarge the cameras neid of 
action and its mobility with, consequently, an immediate raising of the reality 
coefficient. 

Future technical improvements which will permit the conquest of the 
properties of the real (color and stereoscopy, for example) can only increase 
the distance between the two realist poles which today are situated in the area 
surrounding Farrebique and Citizen Kane. The quality of interior shots will in 
fact increasingly depend on a complex, delicate, and cumbersome apparatus. 
Some measure of reality must always be sacrificed in the effort of achieving it. 

PAISÅ 

How do you fit the Italian film into the realist spectrum? After trying to trace 
the geographical boundaries of this cinema, so penetrating in its portrayal of 
the social setting, so meticulous and perceptive in its choice of authentic and 
significant detail, it now remains for us to fathom its aesthetic geology. 

We would clearly be deluding ourselves if we pretended to reduce recent 
Italian production to certain common, easily definable characteristics appli- 
cable to all directors. We will simply try to single out those characteristics with 
the widest application, reserving the right when the occasion arises to limit 
our concern to the most significant films. Since we must also make a choice, 
we will arrange, by implication, the major Italian films in concentric circles of 
decreasing interest around Paiså, since it is this film of Rossellinis that yields 
the most aesthetic secrets. 



42 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE 

As in the novel, the aesthetic implicit in the cinema reveals itself in its 
narrative technique. A film is always presented as a succession of fragments of 
imaged reality on a rectangular surface of given proportions, the ordering of 
the images and their duration on the screen determining its import. 

The objective nature of the modem novel, by reducing the strictly grammatical 
aspect of its stylistics to a minimum, has laid bare the secret essence of style. 
(In Camuss VÉtranger [1942], for example, Sartre has clearly demonstrated 
the link between the authors metaphysic and the repeated use of the passé 
composé, a tense of singular modal poverty.) Certain qualities of the language 
of Faulkner, Hemingway, or Malraux would certainly not come through in 
translation, but the essential quality of their styles would not suffer because 
their style is almost completely identical with their narrative technique — the 
ordering in time of fragments of reality. The style becomes the inner dynamic 
principle of the narrative, somewhat like the relation of energy to matter or 
the specific physics of the work, as it were. This it is which distributes the 
fragmented realities across the aesthetic spectrum of the narrative, which 
polarizes the filings of the facts without changing their chemical composition. 
A Faulkner, a Malraux, a Dos Passos, each has his personal universe which is 
dermed by the nature of the facts reported, but also by the law of gravity which 
holds them suspended above chaos. 

It will be useful, therefore, to arrive at a defmition of the Italian style on 
the basis of the scenario, of its genesis, and of the forms of exposition that 
it follows. Nearly all the credits of an Italian film, incidentally, list under the 
heading "scenario" a good dozen names. This imposing evidence of collabo- 
ration need not be tåken too seriously. It is intended to provide the producers 
with a naively political assurance. It usually consists of one Christian Democrat 
and one Communist (just as in the film there is a Marxist and a priest); the 
third screenwriter has a reputation for story construction; the fourth is a gag 
man; the fifth because he is a good dialogue writer; the sixth because he has a 
fine feeling for life. The result is no berter or no worse than if there had been 
only one screen writer, but the Italian notion of a scenario fits in with their 
concept of a collective paternity according to which everyone contributes 
an idea without any obligation on the part of the director to use it. Rather 
than the assembly line of American screenwriters, this interdependence of 
improvisation is like that of commedia dellarte or jazz. 

Unfortunately, the demon of melodrama that Italian filmmakers seem 
incapable of exorcising takes over every so often, thus imposing a dramatic 
necessity on strictly foreseeable events. But that is another story. What matters 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 43 

is the creative surge, the special way in which the situations are brought to life. 
The necessity inherent in the narrative is biological rather than dramatic. It 
burgeons and grows with all the verisimilitude of life. One must not conclude 
that this method, on the face of it, is less aesthetic than a slow and meticulous 
preplanning. But the old prejudice that time, money, and resources have a 
value of their own is so rooted that people forget to relate them to the work 
and to the artist. Van Gogh repainted the same picture ten times, very quickly, 
while Cézanne would return to a painting time and again over the years. 
Certain genres call for speed, for work done in the heat of the moment, but 
surgery could not call for a greater sureness of touch, for greater precision. 

It is only at this price that the Italian film has that air of documentary, a 
naturalness nearer to the spoken than to the written account, to the sketch 
rather than to the painting. It calls for the ease and sure eye of Rossellini, 
Lattuada, Vergano, and De Santis. In their hands the camera is endowed with 
well-defrned cinematographic tact, wonderfully sensitive antennae which 
allow them with one stroke to get precisely what they are after. In II bandito, 
for example, the prisoner, returning from Germany, finds his house in ruins. 
Where a solid building once stood there is now just a pile of stones surrounded 
by broken-down walls. The camera shows us the mans face. Then, following 
the movement of his eyes, it travels through a 360-degree turn which gives 
us the whole spectacle. This panning shot is doubly original. First, because 
at the outset, we stand off from the actor since we are looking at him by way 
of a camera trick, but during the traveling shot we become identified with 
him to the point of feeling surprised when, the 360-degree pan having been 
completed, we return to his face with its expression of utter horror. Second, 
because the speed of this subjective panning shot varies. It starts with a long 
slide, then it comes almost to a halt, slowly studying the burned and shattered 
walls with the same rhythm of the mans watching eye, as if directly impelled 
by his concentration. 

I have had to dwell at some length on this minor example to avoid making 
a purely abstract affirmation concerning what I regard, in an almost psycho- 
logical sense of the word, as cinematic "tact." A shot of this kind by virtue of 
its dynamism belongs with the movement of a hand drawing a sketch, leaving 
a space here, filling in there, here sketching round the subject, and there 
bringing it into relief. I am thinking of the slow motion in the documentary 
on Matisse which allows us to observe, beneath the continuous and uniform 
arabesques of the stroke, the varying hesitations of the artists hand. In such a 
case the camera movement is important. The camera must be equally as ready 
to move as to remain still. Traveling and panning shots do not have the same 
god-like character that the Hollywood camera crane has bestowed on them. 



44 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Everything is shot from eye-level or from a concrete point of view, such as a 
rooftop or window. 

Technically speaking, all the memorable poetry of the childrens ride on the 
white horse in Sciusciå, for its part, can be attributed to a low-level camera 
angle which gives the riders on their mounts the appearance of an equestrian 
statue. In Sortilége (1945), Christian-Jaque went to a great deal more trouble 
over his phantom horse. But all that cinematic virtuosity did not prevent 
his animal from having the prosaic look of a broken-down cab horse. The 
Italian camera retains something of the human quality of the Bell and Howell 
newsreel camera, a projection of hand and eye, almost a living part of the 
operator, instantly in tune with his awareness. As for the photography itself, 
the lighting plays only a minor expressive role. First, because lighting calls for 
a studio, and the greater part of the filming is done on exteriors or in real-life 
settings. Second, because documentary camera work is identified in our 
minds with the gray tones of newsreels. It would be a contradiction to take 
any great pains with or to touch up excessively the plastic quality of the style. 

As we have thus far attempted to describe it, the style of Italian films 
would appear to belong with a greater or lesser degree of skill and mastery 
of technique or feeling to the same family as quasi-literary journalism, to an 
ingenious art, pleasing, lively, and even moving, but basically a minor art. 
This is sometimes true even though one may actually rank the genre fairly 
high in the aesthetic hierarchy. It would be unjust and untrue to see such 
an assessment as the final measure of this particular technique. Just as, in 
literature, reportage with its ethic of objectivity (perhaps it would be more 
correct to say with its ethic of seeming objectivity) has simply provided a basis 
for a new aesthetic of the novel, so the technique of the Italian filmmakers 
results in the best films, especially in Paiså with its aesthetic of narrative that 
is both complex and original. (I will not at this point get into an historical 
argument over the origins or the foreshadowing of the "novel of reportage" 
in the nineteenth century. Besides, the novels of Stendhal or the naturalists 
were concerned with frankness, acuteness, and perspicacity of observation, 
rather than with objectivity properly so called. Facts for their own sake had 
not yet acquired that kind of ontological autonomy, which makes of them a 
succession of sealed off monads, strictly limited by their appearance.) 

Paiså is unquestionably the first film to resemble closely a collection of 
short stories. Up to now we had only known the film composed of sketches — 
a bastard and phony type of film if ever there was one. Rossellini tells us, in 
succession, six stories of the Italian Liberation. This historical element is the 
only thing they have in common. Three of them, the first, the fourth, and the 
last, are tåken from the Resistance. The others are droll or pathetic or tragic 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 



45 



episodes occurring on the fringes of the Allied advance. Prostitution, the 
black market, and a Franciscan convent alike provide the story material. There 
is no progression other than a chronological ordering of the story beginning 
with the landing of an Allied force in Sicily. But their social, historical, and 
human foundation gives them a unity enough to constitute a collection 
perfectly homogeneous in its diversity. 

Above all, the length of each story, its form, contents, and aesthetic duration, 
gives us for the first time precisely the impression of a short story. The Naples 
episode of the urchin — a black-market expert, seiling the clothes of a drunk 
Negro soldier — is an excellent Saroyan story. Another makes us think of 
Hemingway, yet another (the first) of Faulkner. I am not merely referring to 
the tone or the subject, but in a profound way to the style. Unfortunately, one 
cannot put a film sequence in quotation marks like a paragraph, and hence 
any literary description of one must of necessity be incomplete. However, 
what follows is an episode from the final story which reminds me now of 
Hemingway, now of Faulkner. 




Paisan, "Rome episode," dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1946. 



1. A small group of Italian partisans and Allied soldiers have been given a 
supply of food by a family of fisher folk living in an isolated farmhouse in 
the heart of the marshlands of the Po delta. Having been handed a basket 
of eels, they take off. Some while later, a German patrol discovers this, and 
executes the inhabitants of the farm. 

2. An American officer and a partisan are wandering at twilight in the 
marshes. There is a burst of gunfire in the distance. From a highly elliptical 
conversation we gather that the Germans have shot the fishermen. 



46 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



3. The dead bodies of the men and women lie stretched out in front of the 
little farmhouse. In the twilight, a half-naked baby cries endlessly. 

Even with such a succinct description, this fragment of the story reveals 
enormous ellipses — or rather, great holes. A complex train of action is reduced 
to three or four brief fragments, in themselves already elliptical enough in 
comparison with the reality they are unfolding. Let us pass over the first 
purely descriptive fragment. The second event is conveyed to us by something 
only the partisans can know — distant gunfire. The third is presented to us 
independently of the presence of the partisans. It is not even certain that there 
were any witnesses to the scene. A baby cries besides its dead parents. There is 
a fact. How did the Germans discover that the parents were guilty? How is it 
that the child is still alive? That is not the films concern, and yet a whole train 
of connected events led to this particular outcome. 

In any case, the filmmaker does not ordinarily show us everything. That is 
impossible — but the things he selects and the things he leaves out tend to form 
a logical pattern by way of which the mind passes easily from cause to effect. 
The technique of Rossellini undoubtedly maintains an intelligible succession 
of events, but these do not mesh like a chain with the sprockets of a wheel. The 
mind has to leap from one event to the other as one leaps from stone to stone 
in crossing a river. It may happen that one's foot hesitates between two rocks, 
or that one misses one's footing and slips. The mind does likewise. Actually it 
is not of the essence of a stone to allow people to cross rivers without wetting 
their feet any more than the divisions of a melon exist to allow the head of the 
family to divide it equally. Facts are facts and our imagination makes use of 
them, but they do not exist inherently for this purpose. 

In the usual shooting script (according to a process resembling the form of 
the classical novel) the fact comes under the scrutiny of the camera, is divided 
up, analyzed, and put together again, undoubtedly without entirely losing its 
factual nature; but the latter, presumably, is enveloped in abstraction, as the 
clay of a brick is enveloped by the wall which is not as yet present but which 
will multiply its parallelipeds. For Rossellini, facts take on a meaning, but not 
like a tool whose function has predetermined its form. The facts follow one 
another, and the mind is forced to observe their resemblance; and thus, by 
recalling one another, they end up by meaning something which was inherent 
in each and which is, so to speak, the moral of the story — a moral the mind 
cannot fail to grasp since it was drawn from reality itself. 

In the Florentine episode, a woman crosses the city while it is still occupied 
by a number of Germans and groups of Italian Fascists; she is on her way to 
meet her fiancé, a leader of the Italian underground, accompanied by a man 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 47 

who likewise is looking for his wife and child. The attention of the camera 
following them, step by step, though it will share all the difficulties they 
encounter, all their dangers, will however be impartially divided between the 
heroes of the adventure and the conditions they must encounter. Actually, 
everything that is happening in a Florence in the throes of the Liberation 
is of a similar importance. The personal adventures of the two individuals 
blend into the mass of other adventures, just as one attempts to elbow one's 
way into a crowd to recover something one has lost. In the course of making 
ones way one sees in the eyes of those who stand aside the reflections of other 
concerns, other passions, other dangers alongside which ones own may well 
be merely laughable. Ultimately and by chance, the woman learns, from a 
wounded partisan, that the man she is looking for is dead. But the statement 
from which she learned the news was not aimed straight at her — but hit her 
like a stray bullet. 

The impeccable line followed by this summary owes nothing to classical 
forms that are standard for a story of this kind. Attention is never artificially 
focused on the heroine. The camera makes no pretense at being psychologi- 
cally subjective. We share all the more fully in the feelings of the protagonists 
because it is easy for us to sense what they are feeling; and also because the 
pathetic aspect of the episode does not derive from the fact that a woman 
has lost the man she loves but from the special place this drama holds among 
a thousand others, apart from and yet also part of the complete drama of 
the Liberation of Florence. The camera, as if making an impartial report, 
confines itself to following a woman searching for a man, leaving to us 
the task of being alone with her, of understanding her, and of sharing her 
suffering. 

In the admirable final episode of the partisans surrounded in the marsh- 
lands, the muddy waters of the Po delta, the reeds stretching away to the 
horizon, just sufficiently tall to hide the man crouching down in the little flat- 
bottomed boat, the lapping of the waves against the wood, all occupy a place 
of equal importance with the men. This dramatic role played by the marsh is 
due in great measure to deliberately intended qualities in the photography. 
This is why the horizon is always at the same height. Maintaining the same 
proportions between water and sky in every shot brings out one of the basic 
characteristics of this landscape. It is the exact equivalent, under conditions 
imposed by the screen, of the inner feeling men experience who are living 
between the sky and the water and whose lives are at the mercy of an infini- 
tesimal shift of angle in relation to the horizon. This shows how much subtlety 
of expression can be got on exteriors from a camera in the hands of the man 
who photographed Paiså. 



48 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The unit of cinematic narrative in Paiså is not the "shot," an abstract view 
of a reality which is being analyzed, but the "fact." A fragment of concrete 
reality in itself multiple and full of ambiguity, whose meaning emerges only 
after the fact, thanks to other imposed facts between which the mind estab- 
lishes certain relationships. Unquestionably, the director chose these "facts" 
carefully while at the same time respecting their factual integrity. The close-up 
of the doorknob referred to earlier was less a fact than a sign brought into 
arbitrary relief by the camera, and no more independent semantically than 
a preposition in a sentence. The opposite is true of the marsh or the death of 
the peasants. 

But the nature of the "image facts" is not only to maintain with the other 
image facts the relationships invented by the mind. These are in a sense 
the centrifugal properties of the images — those which make the narrative 
possible. Each image being on its own just a fragment of reality existing before 
any meanings, the entire surface of the scene should manifest an equally 
concrete density. Once again we have here the opposite of the "doorknob" 
type of scene, in which the color of the enamel, the dirt marks at the level of 
the hand, the shine of the metal, the worn-away look are just so many useless 
facts, concrete parasites of an abstraction fittingly dispensed with. 

In Paiså (and I repeat that I imply by this, in varying degrees, all Italian 
films) the close-up of the doorknob would be replaced, without any loss of 
that peculiar quality of which it is part, by the "image fact" of a door whose 
concrete characteristics would be equally visible. For the same reason the 
actors will take care never to dissociate their performance from the décor 
or from the performance of their fellow actors. Man himself is just one fact 
among others, to whom no pride of place should be given a priori. That is 
why the Italian filmmakers alone know how to shoot successful scenes in 
buses, trucks, or trains, namely because these scenes combine to create a 
special density within the framework of which they know how to portray 
an action without separating it from its material context, and without loss 
of that uniquely human quality of which it is an integral part. The subtlety 
and suppleness of movement within these cluttered spaces, the naturalness of 
the behavior of everyone in the shooting area, make of these scenes supreme 
bravura moments of the Italian cinema. 



THE REALISM OF THE ITALIAN CINEMA AND THE 
TECHNIQUE OF THE AMERICAN NOVEL 

The absence of any film documentation may have operated against a clear 
understanding of what I have so far written. I have arrived at the point of 



"ClNEMATIC REALISM AND THE ITALIAN SCHOOL OF THE LIBERATION" 49 

characterizing as similar the styles of Rossellini in Paiså and of Orson Welles 
in Citizen Kane. By diametrically opposite technical routes, each arrives at a 
scenario with roughly the same approach to reality — the depth of focus of 
Welles and the predisposition toward reality of Rossellini. In both we find the 
same dependence of the actor relative to the setting, the same realistic acting 
demanded of everyone in the scene whatever their dramatic importance. 
Better still, although the styles are so different, the narrative follows basically 
the same pattern in Citizen Kane and in Paiså. In short, although they use 
independent techniques, without the least possibility of a direct influence 
one on the other, and possessed of temperaments that could hardly be less 
compatible, Rossellini and Welles have, to all intents and purposes, the same 
basic aesthetic objective, the same aesthetic concept of realism. 

I had leisure enough as I watched the film to compare the narrative of 
Paiså with that of some modern novelists and short-story writers. Besides, 
the resemblances between the technique of Orson Welles and that of the 
American novel, notably Dos Passos, are sufficiently obvious to allow me now 
to expound my thesis. The aesthetic of the Italian cinema, at least in its most 
elaborate manifestations and in the work of a director as conscious of his 
medium as Rossellini, is simply the equivalent on film of the American novel. 
Let us clearly understand that we are concerned here with something quite 
other than banal adaptation. 

Hollywood, in fact, never stops adapting American novels for the screen. 
We are familiar with what Sam Wood did to For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). 
Basically all he wanted was to retell a plot. Even if he had been faithful to the 
original, sentence by sentence, he would not, properly speaking, have trans- 
ferred anything from the book to the screen. The films that have managed to 
translate something of the style of novels into images can be counted on the 
fingers of one hand, by which I mean the very fabric of the narrative, the law 
of gravity that governs the ordering of the facts. The cinema nevertheless has 
come close to these truths on several occasions, in the case of Louis Feuillade 
for example, or of Erich von Stroheim. More recently, André Malraux has 
clearly understood the parallel between a certain style of novel and film 
narrative. Finally, instinctively and by virtue of his genius, Jean Renoir had 
already applied in La Regle du jeu (1939) the essentials of the principles of 
depth of focus and the simultaneous presentation of all the actors in a scene. 
We had to wait for Orson Welles to show what the cinema of the American 
novel would be. 

So then, while Hollywood adapts bestseller after bestseller at the same time 
moving further away from the spirit of this literature, it is in Italy, naturally 
and with an ease that excludes any notion of deliberate and willful imitation, 



50 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



that the cinema of American literature has become a reality. Unquestionably 
we must not underestimate the popularity of the American novelists in Italy, 
where their works were translated and assimilated long before they were in 
France, and the influence for example of Saroyan on Vittorini is common 
knowledge. 

I would sooner cite, in preference to these dubious cause-and-effect relations, 
the exceptional affinity of the two civilizations as revealed by the Allied 
occupation. The G.I. felt himself at home at once in Italy, and the paisan was 
at once on familiar terms with the G.I., black or white. The widespread black 
market and the presence everywhere of prostitution, wherever the American 
army went, is by no means the least convincing example of the symbiosis of 
two civilizations. It is not for nothing that American soldiers are important 
characters in most recent Italian films; and that they are much at home there 
speaks volumes. 

Although some paths have been opened by literature and the occupation, 
the phenomenon cannot be explained on this level alone. American films are 
being made in Italy today but never has the Italian film been at the same time 
more typically Italian. The body of references I have adopted has excluded 
similarities even less disputable, for example the Italian "tale," the commedia 
dellarte, and the technique of the fresco. Rather than an influence one on 
the other, it is an accord between cinema and literature, based on the same 
profound aesthetic data, on the same concept of the relation between art and 
reality. It is a long while since the modern novel created its realist revolution, 
since it combined behaviorism, a reporters technique, and the ethic of 
violence. Far from the cinemas having the slightest effect on this evolution, as 
is commonly held today, a film like Paiså proves that the cinema was twenty 
years behind the contemporary novel. It is not the least of the merits of the 
Italian cinema that it has been able to find the truly cinematic equivalent for 
the most important literary revolution of our time. 



Chapter Four 

La Terra Trema" 



"La terra trema," from VEsprit (December 1948), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 
(Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 38-44; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single- 
volume version]), pp. 287-293; translated into English by Hugh Gray in What Is 
Cinema? Vol. 2 (Univ. of California Press, 1971), pp. 41-46, and edited below by 
Bert Cardullo. 

The subject matter of La terra trema (1948), owes nothing to the war: it 
deals with an attempted revolt by the fishermen of a small Sicilian village 
against the economic stranglehold exerted by the local fleet-owning fish 
merchants. I might denne the film as a kind of super-Farrebique about 
fishermen. The parallels with Georges Rouquiers 1946 film are many: 
first, its quasi-documentary realism; then (if one may so put it) the 
exoticism intrinsic to the subject matter; and, too, the underlying "human 
geography" (for the Sicilian family, the hope of freeing themselves from the 
merchants amounts to the same thing as the installation of electricity for 
the Farrebique family). 

Although in La terra trema, a Communist film, the whole village is 
involved, the story is told in terms of a single family, ranging from grand- 
father to grandchildren. This family was as much out of its element in the 
sumptuous reception Universalia gave in its honor at the Excelsior in Venice 
as the Farrebique family had been at its press party in Paris. Visconti, like 
Rouquier, did not want to use professional actors, not even Rossellinis kind 
of "amalgam." His fishermen are fishermen in real life. He recruited them 
at the scene of his storys action — if that is the proper term, for here (as in 
Farrebique) the action deliberately resists the seductions of "drama"; the story 
unfolds — without regard for the rules of suspense, its only resource a concern 
with things themselves, as in life. But with these "negative" rather than 



51 



52 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



"positive" aspects of the story the resemblances to Farrebique end; La terra 
trema is as remote as could be in style from Farrebique. 

Visconti, like Rouquier, aimed at and unquestionably achieved a paradoxical 
synthesis of realism and aestheticism, but the poetry of Farrebique is due, in 
essence, to montage — for example, the winter and spring sequences. To 
obtain this synthesis in his film, Visconti has not had recourse to the effects 
one can produce from the juxtaposition of images. Each image here contains 
a meaning of its own, which it expresses fully. This is the reason why it is 
difficult to see more than a tenuous relation between La terra trema and 
the Soviet cinema of the second half of the twenties, to which montage 
was essential. We may add now that it is not by means of symbolism in the 
imagery, either, that meaning manifests itself here — I mean, the symbolism to 
which Eisenstein and Rouquier resort. The aesthetic peculiar to the image in 
this film is always plastic; it avoids any inclination to the epic. As staggeringly 
beautiful as the fishing fleet may be when it leaves the harbor, it is still just the 
village fleet, not, as in The Battleship Potemkin (1925), the Enthusiasm and the 
Support of the people of Odessa who send out the fishing boats loaded with 
food for the rebels. 




The Earth Trembles, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1948. 



"La Terra Trema" 



53 



But, one may ask, where is art to take refuge if the realism one is proposing is 
so ascetic? Everywhere else: in the quality of the photography, especially. Our 
compatriot Aldo, who before his work on this film did nothing of real note 
and was known only as a studio cameraman, has here created a profoundly 
original style of image, unequaled anywhere (as far as I know) but in the short 
films which are being made in Sweden by Arne Sucksdorff. 

To keep the discussion brief, I will only note that, in an article on Italian film 
of 1946, titled "Cinematic Realism and the Italian School of the Liberation" 
(Esprit, January 1948), I had examined some aspects of the kind of film realism 
then current, and that I was led to see Farrebique and Orson Welless Citizen 
Kane (1941) as the two poles of realistic technique. The realism of Farrebique 
derives from the object itself, of Citizen Kane from the way it structures what 
it represents. In Farrebique everything is real. In Citizen Kane everything has 
been reconstructed in a studio — but only because such depth of field and 
such rigorously composed images could not be obtained on location. Paiså 
(1946) stands somewhere between the two but closer to Farrebique for its 
images, while the realistic aesthetic works its way into the film between the 
component blocs of reality through its peculiar conception of narrative. 

The images of La terra trema achieve what is at once a paradox and a tour de 
force in integrating the aesthetic realism of Citizen Kane with the documentary 
realism of Farrebique. If this is not, strictly speaking, the first time depth of 
focus has been used outside the studio, it is at least the first time it has been 
used as consciously and as systematically as it is here out of doors, in the rain 
and even in the dead of night, as well as indoors in the real-life settings of the 
fishermens hornes. I cannot linger over the technical tour de force which this 
represents, but I would like to emphasize that depth of focus has naturally led 
Visconti (as it led Welles) not only to reject montage but, in some literal sense, 
to invent a new kind of shooting script. 

His "shots" (if one is justified in retaining the term) are unusually long — 
some lasting three or four minutes. In each, as one might expect, several 
actions are going on simultaneously. Visconti also seems to have wanted, in 
some systematic sense, to base the construction of his image on the event 
itself. If a fisherman rolls a cigarette, he spares us nothing: we see the whole 
operation; it will not be reduced to its dramatic or symbolic meaning, as 
is usual with montage. The shots are often fixed-frame, so that people and 
things may enter the frame and take up position; but Visconti is also in the 
habit of using a special kind of panning shot which moves very slowly over 
an extremely wide are: this is the only camera movement that he allows 
himself, for he excludes all tracking shots and, of course, every unusual 
camera angle. 



54 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The unlikely sobriety of this structure is possible only because of the 
remarkable plastic balance maintained — a balance which only a photo- 
graph could render absolutely. But above and beyond the merits of its 
purely formal properties, the image reveals an intimate knowledge of the 
subject matter on the part of the filmmakers. This is especially remarkable 
in the interiors, which hitherto have eluded film. The difficulties attendant 
on lighting and shooting make it almost impossible to use real interiors 
as settings. It has been done occasionally, but the results from an aesthetic 
point of view have been far inferior to what can be achieved on exteriors. 
Here, for the first time throughout an entire film, there was no variation 
in quality between interior and exterior as to the style of the shooting 
script, the performance of the actors, and the results of the photography. 
Visconti is worthy of the novelty of his triumph. Despite the poverty — or 
even because of the simple "ordinariness" — of this household of fishermen, 
an extraordinary kind of poetry, at once intimate and social, emanates 
from it. 

The masterly way in which Visconti has handled his actors deserves the 
highest praise. This is by no means the first time in the history of film that 
nonprofessional actors have been used, but never before (except perhaps in 
"exotic" films, where the problem is somewhat specialized) have the actors 
been so skillfully integrated with the most specifically aesthetic elements of 
the film. Rouquier never knew how to handle his family without our being 
conscious of a camera. The embarrassment, the repressed laughter, the 
awkwardness are skillfully covered up by the editing, which always cuts just in 
the nick of time. In La terra trema, the actor, sometimes on camera for several 
minutes at a time, speaks, moves, and acts with complete naturalness — one 
might even say, with unimaginable grace. Visconti is from the theater, so he 
has known how to communicate to the nonprofessionals of La terra trema 
something more than naturalness: namely that stylization of gesture which is 
the crowning achievement of an actors profession. If festival juries were not 
what they are, the Venice Film Festival prize for best acting should have gone 
to the fishermen of La terra trema. 

Visconti lets us sees that the Italian neorealism of 1946 has been left far 
behind on more than one score. Hierarchies in art are fairly pointless, but 
cinema is too young an art still, too involved in its own evolution, to be able 
to indulge in repeating itself for any length of time. Five years in cinema is the 
equivalent of an entire literary generation. It is the merit of Visconti to have 
managed a dialectical integration of the achievements of recent Italian film 
with a larger, richer aesthetic for which the term "realism" no longer has much 
meaning. I am not saying that La terra trema is superior to Paiså or to Caccia 



"La Terra Trema" 



55 



tragica (1947) but only that it does, at least, have the merit of having left them 
behind from an historical standpoint. 

Seeing the best Italian films of 1948, I had the impression that Italian 
cinema was doomed to repeat itself to its utter exhaustion. La terra trema 
is the only original way out of the aesthetic impasse, and in that sense, one 
might suppose, it bears the burden of our hopes. Does this mean that those 
hopes will be fulfilled? No, unhappily, it is not certain, for La terra trema 
runs counter, still, to some cinematic principles with which Visconti will have 
to deal in future films somewhat more convincingly than he does here. In 
particular, his disinclination to sacrifice anything to drama has one obvious 
and serious consequence: La terra trema bores the public. A film with a 
limited action, it lasts longer than three hours. If you add that the language 
used in the film is a dialectal Sicilian (which, given the photographic style of 
the image, it is impossible to subtitle), and that not even mainland Italians 
understand it, you can see that this is somewhat austere "entertainment" and 
faces no more than a restricted commercial future. 

I am sincere when I say that I hope Universalia will play the role of 
[the Roman patron] Maecenas sufficiently to enable Visconti, while himself 
sharing the cost from his large personal fortune, to finish the trilogy he 
projects of which La terra trema is only the first part. We will then, at best, 
have some filmic monster, whose highly social and political preoccupations 
will nonetheless remain inaccessible to the general public. In the world of 
cinema, it is not necessary that everyone approve every film, provided that 
what prompts the publics incomprehension can be compensated for by the 
other things. In other words, the aesthetic of La terra trema must be applicable 
to dramatic ends if it is to be of service in the evolution of cinema. One also 
has to take into account — and this is even more disturbing, in view of what 
one has the right to expect from Visconti himself— a dangerous inclination to 
aestheticism. 

This great aristocrat, an artist to the tips of his fingers, is a Communist, 
too — dare I say a synthetic one? La terra trema in the end lacks inner fire, by 
which I mean inner commitment. One is reminded of the great Renaissance 
painters who, without having to do violence to themselves, were able to paint 
such fine religious frescoes in spite of their deep indifference to Christianity. I 
am not passing judgment on the sincerity of Viscontis communism. But what 
is sincerity? Obviously, at issue is not some paternalistic feeling for the prole- 
tariat. Paternalism is a bourgeois phenomenon, and Visconti is an aristocrat. 
What is at issue, maybe, is an aesthetic participation in history. Whatever it 
be, though, we are a long way off from the telling conviction of Eisensteins 
Battleship Potemkin or Pudovkins The End of Saint Petersburg (1927) or even 



56 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



(the theme is the same) Erwin Piscator s film The Revolt of the Fishermen 
(1934). 

There is no doubt that La terra trema does have propaganda value, but 
this value is purely objective: there is no moving eloquence to bolster its 
documentary vigor. This is how Visconti intended it to be, a decision that is 
not in itself unattractive. But it involves him in a fairly risky bet, which he 
may not necessarily be able to cover, at least in terms of film. Let us hope that 
Viscontis future work will show us that he can. As it stands, however, he wont 
succeed unless he can avoid falling in the direction in which his cinema is 
already perilously leaning. 



Chapter Five 

Germany, Year Zero 



"Allemagne année zero," from UEsprit (1949), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 3 
(Éditions du Cerf, 1961), pp. 29-32; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single- 
volume version]), pp. 203-206; translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

A childs face elicits from us conflicting responses. We marvel at it because 
of its already unique yet specifically childlike characteristics — hence Mickey 
Rooneys success and the proliferation of freckles on the faces of young 
American stars. The days of Shirley Temple, who unduly prolonged her own 
private theatrical, lite6rary, and visual aesthetic, are now over; children in the 
cinema no longer look like china dolls or Renaissance representations of the 
infant Jesus. But mystery continues to frighten us, and we want to be reassured 
against it by the faces of children; we thoughtlessly ask of these faces that they 
reflect feelings we know very well because they are our own. We demand of 
them signs of complicity, and the audience quickly becomes enraptured and 
teary when children show feelings that are usually associated with grown-ups. 
We are thus seeking to contemplate ourselves in them: ourselves, plus the 
innocence, awkwardness, and naiveté we have lost. This kind of cinema moves 
us, but arent we in fact just feeling sorry for ourselves? 

With very few exceptions (like Vigos Zero for Conduct [1933], which is 
pervaded with irony), childrens films fully play on the ambiguity of our 
interest in these miniature human beings. Come to think of it, these films treat 
childhood precisely as if it were open to our understanding and empathy; they 
are made in the name of anthropomorphism. It Happened in Europe (1947) is 
no exception to this rule. Quite the contrary: Géza Radvånyi, the Hungarian 
director, manipulates that anthropomorphism with diabolical skill. I wont 
reproach him for his demagogy to the extent that I accept the world he creates. 



57 



58 André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Germany, Year Zero, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1947. 



But even though I get a tear in my eye like everybody else, I cant help seeing 
that the death of the ten-year-old boy who is shot down while playing the 
"Marseillaise" on his harmonica, is so moving only because it confirms our 
adult conception of heroism. By contrast, the atrocious strangling of the truck 
driver with a slipknot of iron wire contains, because of the pathetic reason 
behind it (to get a piece of bread and a strip of bacon for ten famished boys), 
something inexplicable and unforeseen that has its origin in the irreducible 
mystery of childhood. All in all, however, this film relies much more on our 
sympathy for children who manifest feelings that are comprehensible to us. 

Roberto Rossellinis profound originality in Germany, Year Zero (1947) lies 
in his deliberate refusal to resort to any such sentimental sympathy, to make 
any concession to anthropomorphism. His kid is eleven or twelve years old, 
and it would be easy, even normal, most of the time for the script and the 
acting to introduce us into the innermost recesses of his conscience. If we 
do know some things about this boys thoughts and feelings, however, it is 
never because of signs that can be read directly on his face, nor even because 
of his behavior, for we get to understand it only by inference and conjecture. 
Of course, the speech of the Nazi schoolmaster is the immediate source of 
the boys murder of his sickly and "useless" father ("the weak must perish so 
that the strong may live"), but when he pours the poison into the cup of tea, 
we look in vain on his face for anything other than concentration and calcu- 
lation. We cannot see on it any sign of indifference, or cruelty, or possible 
sorrow. A schoolmaster has pronounced some words in front of him, and 
these have made their way through to his mind and caused him to make this 



"Germany, Year Zero" 



59 



decision: but how, and at the cost of how much inner conflict? This is not the 
filmmakers concern; it is only the childs. Rossellini could have given us an 
interpretation of the murder only through a piece of trickery, by projecting his 
own explanation onto the boy and having him reflect it for us. 

Rossellinis aesthetic clearly triumphs in the final fifteen minutes of the film, 
during the boys long quest for some sign of confirmation or approval, ending 
with his suicide in response to being betrayed by the world. First, the school- 
master refuses to assume any responsibility for the incriminating gesture 
of his disciple. Driven into the street, the boy walks and walks, searching 
here and there among the ruins; but, one after the other, people and things 
abandon him. He tinds his girlfriend playing with his pals, but they pick up 
their ball when he tries to approach them. The close-ups that punctuate this 
endless quest never show us anything other than a worried, pensive, perhaps 
frightened face, but frightened of what? Of making some transaction on the 
black market? Of swapping a knife for two cigarettes? Of the thrashing hes 
going to get when he returns home? Only the final scene will give us a retro- 
spective clue to the answer. The fact is, simply, that the signs of play and the 
signs of death may be the same on a childs face, at least for those of us who 
cannot penetrate its mystery. 

The boy hops on one leg along the edge of a broken-up sidewalk. He picks 
up among the masses of stone and twisted steel a piece of rusty metal that 
he handles as if it were a gun. He aims through a hole in the ruins at an 
imaginary target: bang, bang, bang. . . . Then, with exactly the same playful 
spontaneity he puts the imaginary gun to his temple. Finally, the suicide: the 




Germany, Year Zero, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1947. 



60 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



kid climbs to the top floor of the bombed-out building facing his own house; 
he looks down and sees a hearse pick up a coffin and take it away, leaving the 
family behind; an iron beam sticks out sideways through the devastated floor, 
like a toboggan; he slides down it on his behind and leaps into the void. His 
little corpse lies on the ground now behind a pile of stones at the edge of the 
sidewalk. A woman puts down her shopping bag and kneels beside him. A 
streetcar passes by with a rattling noise. The woman leans back against the pile 
of stones, her arms hanging about her in the eternal pose of a Pietå. 

One can clearly see how Rossellini was led to treat his main character in 
this way Such psychological objectivity was within the logic of his style. 
Rossellinis "realism" has nothing in common with all that the cinema has 
given to us up to now in the name of realism (with the exception of Jean 
Renoirs films). His realism lies not in the subject matter but in the style. 
Rossellini is perhaps the only filmmaker in the world who knows how to get 
us interested in an action while leaving it in its objective context. Our emotion 
is thus rid of all sentimentality, for it has been filtered by force through our 
intelligence. We are moved not by the actor or the event, but by the meaning 
we are forced to extract from the action. In this mise en scene, the moral or 
dramatic significance is never visible on the surface of reality; yet we cant fail 
to sense what that significance is if we pay attention. Isnt this, then, a sound 
definition of realism in art: to force the mind to draw its own conclusions 
about people and events, instead of manipulating it into accepting someone 
eises interpretation? 



Chapter Six 

Bicycle Thieves 



"Voleur de bicyclette" from UEsprit, 18.161 (November 1949), pp. 820-832; in 
Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 45-59; in Quest-ce 
que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), pp. 295-309; translated into 
English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 (Univ. of California Press, 1971), 
pp. 47-60, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

What seems to me most astonishing about the Italian cinema is that it appears 
to feel it should escape from the aesthetic impasse to which neorealism is 
said to have led. The dazzling effects of 1946 and 1947 having faded away, 
one could reasonably fear that this useful and intelligent reaction against the 
Italian aesthetic of the super-spectacle and, for that matter, more generally, 
against the technical aestheticism from which cinema suffered all over the 
world, would never get beyond an interest in a kind of super-documentary, 
or romanticized reportage. One began to realize that the success of Roma, 
cittå aperta (1945), Paiså (1946), or Sciusciå (1946) was inseparable from a 
special conjunction of historical circumstances that took its meaning from 
the Liberation, and that the technique of the films was in some way magnified 
by the revolutionary value of the subject. Just as some books by Malraux or 
Hemingway find in a crystallization of journalistic style the best narrative 
form for a tragedy of current events, so the films of Rossellini or De Sica 
owed the fact that they were major works, masterpieces, simply to a fortuitous 
combination of form and subject matter. 

But when the novelty and above all the flavor of their technical crudity 
have exhausted their surprise effect, what remains of Italian neorealism 
when by force of circumstances it must revert to traditional subjects: crime 
stories, psychological dramas, social customs? The camera in the street we 
can still accept, but doesnt that admirable nonprofessional acting stand 



61 



62 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



self-condemned in proportion as its discoveries swell the ranks of interna- 
tional stars? And, by way of generalizing about this aesthetic pessimism: 
realism can only occupy in art a dialectical position — it is more a reaction 
than a truth. It remains then to make it part of the aesthetic it came into 
existence to verify. In any case, the Italians were not the last to downgrade 
their neorealism. I think there is not a single Italian director, including the 
most neorealist, who does not insist that he must get away from it. 

French critics, too, feel themselves a prey to scruples — especially since this 
vaunted neorealism early showed signs of running out of steam. Comedies, 
agreeable enough in themselves, appeared on the scene to exploit with visible 
ease the formula of Quattro passi fra le nuvole (1942) or Vivere in pace (1946). 
But worst of all was the emergence of a neorealist super-spectacle in which the 
search for real settings, action tåken from everyday life, portrayals of lower- 
class milieux, "social" backgrounds, became an academic stereotype far more 
detestable than the elephants of Carmine Gallones Scipio Africanus (1937). 
For a neorealist film may have every defect except that of being academic. 
Thus at Venice II patto col diavolo (1949), by Luigi Chiarini, a somber 
melodrama of rural love, took visible pains to find a contemporary "alibi" in 
a story of conflict between shepherds and woodsmen. Although well done on 
some accounts, Pietro Germis In nome della legge (1949), which the Italians 
tried to push to the fore at Knokke-le-Zoute, cannot escape similar criticisms. 
One will notice incidentally, from these two examples, that neorealism is now 
preoccupied with rural problems, perhaps prudently in view of the fate of 
urban neorealism. The closed-in countryside has replaced the open city. 

However that may be, the hopes that we placed in the new Italian school 
had started to turn into uneasiness, or even skepticism, all the more since the 
aesthetic of neorealism forbids it to repeat itself or plagiarize itself in the way 
that is possible and even normal in some traditional genres (the crime film, 
the western, the atmospheric film, and so on). Already we were beginning to 
look toward England, whose recent cinematic rebirth is likewise, in part, the 
fruit of realism: that of the school of documentarians who, before and during 
the war, had gone deeply into the resources offered by social and technical 
realities. A film like David Leans Brief Encounter (1945) would probably 
have been impossible without the ten years of preparation by John Grierson, 
Alberto Cavalcanti, or Paul Rotha. But the English, instead of breaking with 
the technique and the history of European and American cinema, have 
succeeded in combining a highly refined aestheticism with the advances of 
a certain realism. Nothing could be more tightly structured, more carefully 
prepared, than Brief Encounter — nothing less conceivable without the most 
up-to-date studio resources, without elever and established actors; yet can 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



63 



we imagine a more realistic portrait of English manners and psychology? 
Certainly, Lean has gained nothing by making over, this year, a kind of second 
Brief Encounter: The Passionate Friends (1949), presented at the Cannes 
Film Festival. But it is against repetition of the subject matter that one can 
reasonably protest, not against the repetition of the techniques, which could 
be used over and over indefinitely. 

Have I played devils advocate long enough? For let me now make a 
confession: my doubts about the Italian cinema have never gone so far, but all 
the arguments I have invoked have been used by intelligent men — especially 
in Italy — nor are they unfortunately without some semblance of validity. They 
have also often troubled me, and I subscribe to some of them. On the other 
hand there is a film called Ladri di biciclette (1948) and two other films that I 
hope we will soon get to know in France. With Ladri di biciclette De Sica has 
managed to escape from the impasse, to reaffirm anew the entire aesthetic of 
neorealism. 

Ladri di biciclette certainly is neorealist, by all the principles one can 
deduce from the best Italian films since 1946. The story is from the lower 
classes, almost populist: an incident in the daily life of a worker. But the film 




Bicycle Thieves, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1948. 



64 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



shows no extraordinary events such as those which befall the fated workers 
in Jean Gabin films. There are no crimes of passion, none of those grandiose 
coincidences common in detective stories which simply transfer to a realm of 
proletarian exoticism the great tragic debates once reserved for the dwellers 
on Olympus. Truly an insignificant, even a banal incident: a workman spends 
a whole day looking in vain in the streets of Rome for the bicycle someone has 
stolen from him. This bicycle has been the tool of his trade, and if he doesnt 
find it he will again be unemployed. Late in the day, after hours of fruitless 
wandering, he too tries to steal a bicycle. Apprehended and then released, he 
is as poor as ever, but now he feels the shame of having sunk to the level of 
the thief. 

Plainly there is not enough material here even for a news item: the whole 
story would not deserve two lines in a stray-dog column. One must take care 
not to confuse it with realist tragedy in the Jacques Prévert or James M. Cain 
manner, where the initial news item is a diabolic trap placed by the gods amid 
the cobble stones of the street. In itself the event contains no proper dramatic 
valence. It takes on meaning only because of the social (and not psycho- 
logical or aesthetic) position of the victim. Without the haunting specter of 
unemployment, which places the event in the Italian society of 1948, it would 
be an utterly banal misadventure. Likewise, the choice of a bicycle as the key 
object in the drama is characteristic both of Italian urban life and of a period 
when mechanical means of transportation were still rare and expensive. 
There is no need to insist on the hundreds of other meaningful details that 
multiply the vital links between the scenario and actuality, situating the event 
in political and social history, in a given place at a given time. 

The techniques employed in the mise en scene likewise meet the most 
exacting specifications of Italian neorealism. Not one scene shot in a studio. 
Everything was filmed in the streets. As for the actors, none had the slightest 
experience in theater or film. The workman came from the Breda factory, the 
child was found hanging around in the street, the wife was a journalist. These 
then are the facts of the case. It is clear that they do not appear to recall in any 
sense the neorealism of Quattro passi fra le nuvole, Vivere in pace, or Sciusciå. 
On the face of it, then, one should have special reasons for being wary. The 
sordid side of the tale tends toward that most debatable aspect of Italian 
stories: indulgence in the wretched, a systematic search for squalid detail. 

If Ladri di biciclette is a true masterpiece, comparable in rigor to Paiså, it is 
for certain precise reasons, none of which emerge either from a simple outline 
of the scenario or from a superficial disquisition on the technique of the mise 
en scene. The scenario is diabolically elever in its construction; beginning 
with the alibi of a current event, it makes good use of a number of systems of 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



65 



dramatic coordinates radiating in all directions. Ladri di biciclette is certainly 
the only valid Communist film of the whole past decade precisely because it 
still has meaning even when you have abstracted its social significance. Its 
social message is not detached; it remains immanent in the event, but it is so 
clear that nobody can overlook it, still less take exception to it, since it is never 
made explicitly a message. The thesis implied is wondrously and outrageously 
simple: in the world where this workman lives, the poor must steal from each 
other in order to survive. 

But this thesis is never stated as such; it is just that events are so linked 
together that they have the appearance of a formal truth while retaining an 
anecdotal quality. Basically, the workman might have found his bicycle in the 
middle of the film; only then there would have been no film. (Sorry to have 
bothered you, the director might say; we really did think he would never 
find it, but since he has, all is well, good for him, the performance is over, 
you can turn up the lights.) In other words, a propaganda film would try to 
prove that the workman could not find his bicycle, and that he is inevitably 
trapped in the vicious circle of poverty. De Sica limits himself to showing that 
the workman cannot find his bicycle and that as a result he doubtless will be 
unemployed again. No one can fail to see that it is the accidental nature of the 
script that gives the thesis its quality of necessity; the slightest doubt east on 
the necessity of the events in the scenario of a propaganda film renders the 
argument hypothetical. 

Although on the basis of the workmans misfortune we have no alternative 
but to condemn a certain kind of relation between a man and his work, the 
film never makes the events or the people part of an economic or political 
Manichaeism. It takes care not to cheat on reality, not only by contriving 
to give the succession of events the appearance of an accidental and as it 
were anecdotal chronology, but in treating each of them according to its 
phenomenological integrity. In the middle of the chase the little boy suddenly 
needs to piss. So he does. A downpour forces the father and son to shelter 
in a carriageway, so like them we have to forego the chase and wait till the 
storm is over. The events are not necessarily signs of something, of a truth of 
which we are to be convinced; they all carry their own weight, their complete 
uniqueness, that ambiguity which characterizes any fact. So, if you do not have 
the eyes to see, you are free to attribute what happens to bad luck or to chance. 

The same applies to the people in the film. The worker is just as deprived 
and isolated among his fellow trade unionists as he is walking along the street 
or even in that ineffable scene of the Catholic "Quakers" into whose company 
he will shortly stray, because the trade union does not exist to find lost bikes 
but to transform a world in which losing his bike condemns a man to poverty. 



66 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Nor does the worker come to lodge a complaint with the trade union but to 
find comrades who will be able to help him discover the stolen object. So 
here you have a collection of proletarian members of a union who behave 
no differently from a group of paternalistic bourgeois toward an unfortunate 
workman. In his private misfortune, the poster hanger is just as alone in his 
union as in church (buddies apart, that is — but then who your buddies are is 
your own affair). 




Bicycle Thieves, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1948. 



This parallel is extremely useful, however, because it points up a striking 
contrast. The indifference of the trade union is normal and justified because a 
trade union is striving for justice, not for charity. But the cumbersome pater- 
nalism of the Catholic "Quakers" is unbearable, because their eyes are closed 
to his personal tragedy while they in fact actually do nothing to change the 
world that is the cause of it. On this score the most successful scene is that 
in the storm under the porch when a flock of Austrian seminarians crowd 
around the worker and his son. We have no valid reason to blame them for 
chattering so much and still less for talking German. But it would be difficult 
to create a more objectively anticlerical scene. 

Clearly, and I could find twenty more examples: events and people are 
never introduced in support of a social thesis — but the thesis emerges fully 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



67 



armed and all the more irrefutable because it is presented to us as something 
thrown in into the bargain. It is our intelligence that discerns and shapes it, 
not the film. De Sica wins every play on the board without ever having made 
a bet. This technique is not entirely new in Italian films and we have elsewhere 
stressed its value at length both apropos of Paiså and of Germania, anno zero 
(1947), but these two films were based on themes from either the Resistance 
or the war. Ladri di biciclette is the first decisive example of the possibility 
of the conversion of this kind of objectivity to other, similar subjects. De 
Sica and Zavattini have transferred neorealism from the Resistance to the 
Revolution. 

Thus the thesis of the film is hidden behind an objective social reality which 
in turn moves into the background of the moral and psychological drama that 
could of itself justify the film. The idea of the boy is a stroke of genius, and 
one does not know definitely whether it came from the script or in the process 
of directing, so little does this distinction mean here anymore. It is the child 
who gives to the workmans adventure its ethical dimension and fashions, 
from an individual moral standpoint, a drama that might well have been only 
social. Remove the boy, and the story remains much the same. The proof: a 
summary of it would not differ in detail. In fact, the boys part is confined to 
trotting along beside his father. But he is the intimate witness of the tragedy, 
its private chorus. 

It is supremely elever to have virtually eliminated the role of the wife in 
order to give flesh and blood to the private character of the tragedy in the 
person of the child. The complicity between father and son is so subtle that 
it reaches down to the foundations of the moral life. It is the admiration the 
child feels for his father and the father s awareness of it which gives its tragic 
stature to the ending. The public shame of the worker, exposed and clouted 
in the open street, is of little account compared with the fact that his son 
witnessed it. When he feels tempted to steal the bike, the silent presence of 
the little child, who guesses what his father is thinking, is cruel to the verge 
of obscenity. Trying to get rid of him by sending him to take the streetcar is 
like telling a child in some cramped apartment to go and wait on the landing 
outside for an hour. Only in the best Chaplin films are there situations of an 
equally overwhelming conciseness. 

In this connection, the final gesture of the little boy in giving his hand to his 
father has been frequently misinterpreted. It would be unworthy of the film 
to see here a concession to the feelings of the audience. If De Sica gives them 
this satisfaction it is because it is a logical part of the drama. This experience 
marks henceforth a definite stage in the relations between father and son, 
rather like reaching puberty. Up to that moment the man has been like a god 



68 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



to his son; their relations come under the heading of admiration. By his action 
the father has now compromised them. The tears they shed as they walk side 
by side, arms swinging, signify their despair over a paradise lost. But the son 
returns to a father who has fallen from grace. He will love him henceforth as 
a human being, shame and all. The hand that slips into his is neither a symbol 
of forgiveness nor of a childish act of consolation. It is rather the most solemn 
gesture that could ever mark the relations between a father and his son: one 
that makes them equals. 

It would take too long to enumerate the multiple secondary functions 
of the boy in the film, both as to the story structure and as to the mise 
en scene itself. However, one should at least pay attention to the change of 
tone (almost in the musical sense of the term) that his presence introduces 
into the middle of the film. As we slowly wander back and forth between 
the little boy and the workman we are tåken from the social and economic 
plane to that of their private lives, and the supposed death by drowning of 
the child, in making the father suddenly realize the relative insignificance 
of his misfortune, creates a dramatic oasis (the restaurant scene) at the 
heart of the story. It is, however, an illusory one, because the reality of this 
intimate happiness in the long run depends on the precious bike. Thus the 
child provides a dramatic reserve which, as the occasion arises, serves as 
a counterpoint, as an accompaniment, or moves on the contrary into the 
foreground of the melodic structure. 

This function in the story is, furthermore, clearly observable in the orches- 
tration of the steps of the child and of the grown-up. Before choosing this 
particular child, De Sica did not ask him to perform, just to walk. He wanted 
to play off the striding gait of the man against the short trotting steps of the 
child, the harmony of this discord being for him of capital importance for the 
understanding of the film as a whole. It would be no exaggeration to say that 
Ladri di biciclette is the story of a walk through Rome by a father and his son. 
Whether the child is ahead, behind, alongside — or when, sulking after having 
had his ears boxed, he is dawdling behind in a gesture of revenge — what he 
is doing is never without meaning. On the contrary, it is the phenomenology 
of the script. 

It is difficult, after the success of this pairing of a workman and his son, 
to imagine De Sica having recourse to established actors. The absence of 
professional actors is nothing new. But here again Ladri di biciclette goes 
further than previous films. Henceforth the cinematic purity of the actors 
does not derive from skill, luck, or a happy combination of a subject, a 
period, and a people. Probably too much importance has been attached to 
the ethnic factor. Admittedly the Italians, like the Russians, are the most 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



69 



naturally theatrical of people. In Italy any little street urchin is the equal of 
a Jackie Coogan and life is a perpetual commedia dellarte. However, it seems 
to me unlikely that these acting talents are shared equally by the Milanese, 
the Neapolitans, the peasants of the Po, and the fishermen of Sicily. Racial 
difference apart, the contrasts in their history, language, and economic 
and social condition would suffice to east doubt on a thesis that sought to 
attribute the natural acting ability of the Italian people simply to an ethnic 
quality. 

It is inconceivable, then, that films as different as Paiså, Ladri di biciclette, La 
terra tretna (1948), and even Cielo sulla palude (1949) could share in common 
such a superbly high level of acting. One could conceive that the urban Italian 
has a special gift for spontaneous histrionics, but the peasants in Cielo sulla 
palude are absolute cavemen beside the farmers of Farrebique (1946). Merely 
to recall Rouquiers film in connection with Geninas is enough at least in 
this respect to relegate the experiment of the French director to the level of 
a touchingly patronizing effort. Half the dialogue in Farrebique is spoken 
off-camera because Rouquier could never get the peasants not to laugh during 
a speech of any length. 

Genina in Cielo sulla palude, Visconti in La terra tretna, both handling 
peasants or fishermen by the dozen, gave them complicated roles and got 
them to recite long speeches in scenes in which the camera concentrated on 
their faces as pitilessly as in an American studio. It is an understatement to 
say that these temporary actors are good or even perfect. In these films the 
very concept of actor, performance, character no longer has any meaning. 
An actorless cinema? Undoubtedly. But the original meaning of the formula 
is now outdated, and we should talk today of a cinema without acting, of a 
cinema of which we no longer ask whether the character gives a good perfor- 
mance or not, since here man and the character he portrays are so completely 
one. 

We have not strayed as far as it might seem from Ladri di biciclette. De 
Sica hunted for his east for a long time and selected them for specific charac- 
teristics. Natural nobility, that purity of countenance and bearing that the 
common people have ... He hesitated for months between this person and 
that, took a hundred tests only to decide finally, in a flash and by intuition 
on the basis of a silhouette suddenly come upon at the bend of a road. But 
there is nothing miraculous about that. It is not the unique excellence of this 
workman and this child that guarantees the quality of their performance, but 
the whole aesthetic scheme into which they are fitted. 

When De Sica was looking for a producer to finance his film, he finally 
found one, but on condition that the workman was played by Cary Grant. 



70 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The mere statement of the problem in these terms shows the absurdity of it. 
Actually, Cary Grant plays this kind of part extremely well, but it is obvious 
that the question here is not one of playing of a part but of getting away from 
the very notion of doing any such thing. The worker had to be at once as 
perfect and as anonymous and as objective as his bicycle. This concept of the 
actor is no less "artistic" than the other. The performance of this workman 
implies as many gifts of body and of mind and as much capacity to take 
direction as any established actor has at his command. 

Hitherto films that have been made either totally or in part without actors, 
such as F. W. Murnaus Tabu (1931), Eisensteins Thunder over Mexico (1933), 
and Pudovkins Mother (1926), have seemingly been successes that are either 
out of the ordinary or limited to a certain genre. There is nothing, on the 
other hand, unless it be sound prudence, to prevent De Sica from making 
fifty films like Ladri di biciclette. From now on we know that the absence of 
professional actors in no way limits the choice of subject. The film without 
names has finally established its own aesthetic existence. This in no sense 
means that the cinema of the future will no longer use actors: De Sica, who 
is one of the worlds finest actors, would be the first to deny this. All it means 
is that some subjects handled in a certain style can no longer be made with 
professional actors and that the Italian cinema has defmitely imposed these 
working conditions, just as naturally as it imposed authentic settings. It is this 
transition from an admirable tour de force, precarious as this may be, into an 
exact and infallible technique, that marks a decisive stage in the growth of 
Italian neorealism. 

With the disappearance of the concept of the actor into a transparency 
seemingly as natural as life itself, comes the disappearance of the set. Let us 
understand one another, however. De Sicas film took a long time to prepare, 
and everything was as minutely planned as for a studio super-production, 
which, as a matter of fact, allows for last-minute improvisations, but I cannot 
remember a single shot in which a dramatic effect is born of the shooting 
script properly so called, which seems as neutral as in a Chaplin film. All the 
same, the numbering and titling of shots does not noticeably distinguish Ladri 
di biciclette from any ordinary film. But their selection has been made with 
a view to raising the limpidity of the event to a maximum, while keeping the 
index of refraction from the style to a minimum. 

This objectivity is rather different from Rossellinis in Paiså but it belongs to 
the same school of aesthetics. One may compare it to the objectivity found in 
the kind of prose fiction that, according to André Gide and Martin du Gard, 
necessarily tends in the direction of the most neutral kind of transparency. 
Just as the disappearance of the actor is the result of transcending a style of 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



71 



performance, the disappearance of the mise en scene is likewise the fruit of a 
dialectical progress in the style of the narrative. If the event is sufficient unto 
itself without the direction having to shed any further light on it by means of 
camera angles, purposely chosen camera positions, it is because it has reached 
that stage of perfect luminosity which makes it possible for an art to unmask a 
nature which in the end resembles it. That is why the impression made on us 
by Ladri di biciclette is unfailingly that of truth. 

If this supreme naturalness, the sense of events observed haphazardly as 
the hours roll by, is the result of an ever-present although invisible system of 
aesthetics, it is definitely the prior conception of the scenario which allows 
this to happen. Disappearance of the actor, disappearance of mise en scene 7 . 
Unquestionably, but because the very principle of Ladri di biciclette is the 
disappearance of a story. The term is equivocal. I know of course that there is 
a story but of a different kind from those we ordinarily see on the screen. This 
is even the reason why De Sica could not find a producer to back him. 

When Roger Leenhardt in a prophetic critical statement asked years ago 
"if the cinema is a spectacle," he was contrasting the dramatic cinema with 
the novel-like structure of the cinematic narrative. The former borrows 
from the theater its hidden springs. Its plot, conceived as it may be specifi- 
cally for the screen, is still the alibi for an action identical in essence with 
the action of the classical theater. On this score the film is a spectacle like a 
play. But on the other hand, because of its realism and the equal treatment 
it gives to man and to nature, the cinema is related, aesthetically speaking, 
to the novel. 

Without going too far into a theory of the novel — a debatable subject — let 
us say that the narrative form of the novel or that which derives from it 
differs by and large from the theater in the primacy given to events over 
action, to succession over causality, to mind over will. The conjunction 
belonging to the theater is "therefore," the particle belonging to the novel 
is "then." This scandalously rough definition is correct to the extent that 
it characterizes the two different movements of the mind in thinking, 
namely that of the reader and that of the onlooker. Proust can lose us in a 
madeleine, but a playwright fails in his task if every reply does not link our 
interest to the reply that is to follow. That is why a novel may be laid down 
and then picked up again. A play cannot be cut into pieces. The total unity 
of a spectacle is of its essence. 

To the extent that it can realize the physical requirements of a spectacle, the 
cinema cannot apparently escape the spectacles psychological laws, but it has 
also at its disposal all the resources of the novel. For that reason, doubtless, the 
cinema is congenitally a hybrid. It conceals a contradiction. Besides, clearly, 



72 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



the progression of the cinema is toward increasing its novel-like potential. 
Not that we are against filmed theater, but if the screen can in some condi- 
tions develop and give a new dimension to the theater, it is of necessity at the 
expense of certain scenic values — the first of which is the physical presence 
of the actor. Contrariwise, the novel at least ideally need surrender nothing to 
the cinema. One may think of the film as a super-novel of which the written 
form is a feeble and provisional version. 

This much briefly said, how much of it can be found in the present condition 
of the cinematographic spectacle? It is impossible to overlook the spectacular 
and theatrical needs demanded of the screen. What remains to be decided 
is how to reconcile the contradiction. The Italian cinema of today is the first 
anywhere in the world to have enough courage to east aside the imperatives 
of the spectacular. La terra tretna and Cielo sulla palude are films without 
"action," in the unfolding of which, somewhat after the style of the epic novel, 
no concession is made to dramatic tension. Things happen in them each at its 
appointed hour, one after the other, but each carries an equal weight. If some 
are fuller of meaning than others, it is only in retrospect. We are free to use 
either "therefore" or "then." La terra trema, especially, is a film destined to be 
virtually a commercial failure, unexploitable without cuts that would leave it 
unrecognizable. 

That is the virtue of De Sica and Zavattini. Their Ladri di biciclette is solidly 
structured in the mold of a tragedy. There is not one frame that is not charged 
with an intense dramatic power, yet there is not one either which we cannot 
fail to find interesting, its dramatic continuity apart. The film unfolds on the 
level of pure accident: the rain, the seminarians, the Catholic Quakers, the 
restaurant — all these are seemingly interchangeable; no one seems to have 
arranged them in order on a dramatic spectrum. The scene in the thieves' 
quarter is significant. We are not sure that the man who was chased by the 
workman is actually the bicycle thief, and we shall never know if the epileptic 
fit was a pretense or genuine. As an "action" this episode would be meaningless 
had not its novel-like interest, its value as a fact, given it a dramatic meaning 
to boot. 

It is in fact on its reverse side, and by parallels, that the action is 
assembled — less in terms of "tension" than of a "summation" of the events. 
Yes, it is a spectacle, and what a spectacle! Ladri di biciclette, however, does 
not depend on the mathematical elements of drama; the action does not exist 
beforehand as if it were an "essence." It follows from the preexistence of the 
narrative; it is the "integral" of reality. De Sicas supreme achievement, which 
others have so far only approached with a varying degree of success or failure, 
is to have succeeded in discovering the cinematographic dialectic capable of 



"BlCYCLE THIEVES" 



73 



transcending the contradiction between the action of a "spectacle" and of an 
event. For this reason, Ladri di biciclette is one of the first examples of pure 
cinema. No more actors, no more story, no more sets, which is to say that in 
the perfect aesthetic illusion of reality there is no more cinema. 



Chapter Seven 



"Vittorio De Sic a: 
HXetteur en Scene' 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en scene," from an article originally published in Italian 
(Editions Guanda, 1953), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 
1962), pp. 73-91; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), 
pp. 311-329; translated into English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 
(Univ. of California Press, 1971), pp. 61-78, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

I must confess to the reader that my pen is paralyzed by scruples because of 
the many compelling reasons why I should not be the one to introduce De 
Sica to him. First, there is the presumption implied in a Frenchman wanting to 
teach Italians something about their own cinema in general, and, in particular, 
about the man who is possibly their greatest director. Besides, when I impru- 
dently accepted the honor of introducing De Sica in these pages, I was 
particularly conscious of my admiration for Ladri di biciclette (1948) and I 
had not yet seen Miracolo a Milano (1951). We in France have, of course, seen 
Ladri di biciclette (1948), Sciusciå (1946), and I bambini ci guardano (1943), 
but lovely as Sciusciå is, and revealing as it is of the talents of De Sica, it bears, 
side by side with certain sublime discoveries, traces of the apprentice director. 
The scenario occasionally succumbs to melodramatic indulgence, and the 
direction has a certain poetic elegance, a lyrical quality, that today it seems 
to me De Sica is concerned to avoid. In short, we do not have there as yet the 
personal style of the director. His complete and final mastery is revealed in 
Ladri di biciclette to such an extent that the film seems to include all the efforts 
that went into the making of its predecessors. 

But can one judge a director by a single film? This film is sumcient proof of 
the genius of De Sica, but not of the future forms that this genius will take. As 



74 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



75 



an actor, De Sica is no newcomer to the cinema, but one must still call him 
"young" as a director — a director of the future. In spite of the resemblances 
we will observe between them, Miracolo a Milano differs greatly in inspiration 
and structure from Ladri di biciclette. What will his next film be? Will it reveal 
trends that appear only of minor importance in the previous works? In short, 
we are undertaking to speak of the style of a director of the first order on the 
basis of just two films — one of which seems to conflict with the orientation of 
the other. This is all right if one does not confuse the role of a critic with that of 
a prophet. I have no trouble explaining why I admire Ladri and Miracolo but 
that is something very different from pretending to deduce from these two films 
what are the permanent and definitive characteristics of their makers talent. 




Vittorio De Sica (1902-1974). 



All the same I would willingly have done that for Rossellini after Roma, 
cittå aperta (1945) and Paiså (1946). What I would have been able to say (and 
what I actually wrote in France) ran the risk of being modified by Rossellinis 
subsequent films, but not of being given the lie. The style of Rosellini belongs 
to a different aesthetic family. The rules of its aesthetics are plain to see. It 
lits a vision of the world directly adapted to a framework of mise en scene. 
Rossellinis style is a way of seeing, while De Sicas is primarily a way of feeling. 
The mise en scene of the former lays siege to its object from outside. I do not 
mean without understanding and feeling — but that this exterior approach 
offers us an essential ethical and metaphysical aspect of our relations with 
the world. In order to understand this statement one need only compare the 
treatment of the child in Germania, anno zero (1947) and in Sciusciå and 
Ladri di biciclette. 

Rossellinis love for his characters envelops them in a desperate awareness 
of mans inability to communicate; De Sicas love, on the contrary, radiates 



76 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



from the people themselves. They are what they are, but lit from within by 
the tenderness he feels for them. It follows that Rossellinis direction comes 
between his material and us, not as an artificial obstacle set up between the 
two, but as an unbridgeable, ontological distance, a congenital weakness of the 
human being which expresses itself aesthetically in terms of space, in forms, in 
the structure of his mise en scene. Because we are aware of it as a lack, a refusal, 
an escape from things, and hence finally as a kind of pain, it follows that it is 
easier for us to be aware of it, easier for us to reduce it to a formal method. 
Rossellini cannot alter this without himself passing through a personal moral 
revolution. 

By contrast, De Sica is one of those directors whose sole purpose seems to 
be to interpret their scenarios faithfully, whose entire talent derives from the 
love they have for their subject, from their ultimate understanding of it. The 
mise en scene seems to take shape after the fashion of a natural form in living 
matter. Despite a different kind of sensibility and a marked concern for form, 
Jacques Feyder in France also belongs to this family of directors whose one 
method of work seems to be to treat their subject honestly. This neutrality is 
illusory but its apparent existence does not make the critics task any easier. 
It divides up the output of the filmmaker into so many special cases that, 
given one more film, all that has preceded it might be called into question. It 
is a temptation therefore to see only craftsmanship where one is looking for 
style, the generous humility of a elever technician meeting the demands of the 
subject instead of the creative imprint of a true auteur. 

The mise en scene of a Rossellini film can be readily deduced from the 
images he uses, whereas De Sica forces us to arrive at his mise en scene induc- 
tively from a visual narrative which does not seem to admit of it. Finally and 
above all, the case of De Sica is up to now inseparable from his collaboration 
with Zavattini, even more than is that of Marcel Carné in France with Jacques 
Prévert. There is no more perfect example in the history of the cinema of a 
symbiosis of screenwriter and director. The fact that Zavattini collaborates 
with others, while Prévert has written few stories or scripts for anyone but 
Carné, makes no difference. On the contrary, what it allows us to conclude is 
that De Sica is the ideal director for Zavattini, the one who understands him 
best and most intimately. We have examples of the work of Zavattini without 
De Sica, but nothing of De Sica without Zavattini. We are therefore under- 
taking arbitrarily to distinguish that which truly belongs to De Sica and all the 
more arbitrarily because we have just referred to his at least apparent humility 
in the face of the demands of the scenario. 

We must likewise refuse to separate, as something against nature, what talent 
has so closely joined. May De Sica and Zavattini forgive us — and, in advance, 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



77 



the reader, who can have no interest in my scruples and who is waiting for me 
to get on with my task. I would like it understood, however, for my own peace 
of mind, that I aim only to attempt a few critical statements which the future 
will doubtless call into question; they are simply the personal testimony of a 
French critic writing in 1951 about work full of promise, the qualities of which 
are particularly resistant to aesthetic analysis. This profession of humility is in 
no sense just an oratorical precaution or a rhetorical formula. I beg the reader 
to believe that it is first and foremost the measure of my admiration. 

It is by way of its poetry that the realism of De Sica takes on its meaning, 
for in art, at the source of all realism, there is an aesthetic paradox that must 
be resolved. The faithful reproduction of reality is not art. We are repeatedly 
told that it consists in selection and interpretation. That is why up to now the 
"realist" trends in cinema, as in other arts, consisted simply in introducing 
a greater measure of reality into the work: but this additional measure of 
reality was still only an effective way of serving an abstract purpose, whether 
dramatic, moral, or ideological. 

In France, "naturalism" goes hand in hand with the multiplication of novels 
and plays å thése. The originality of Italian neorealism, as compared with the 
chief schools of realism that preceded it and with the Soviet cinema, lies in 
never making reality the servant of some a priori point of view. Even the Dziga 
Vertov theory of the "Kino-eye" only employed the crude reality of everyday 
events so as to give it a place on the dialectical spectrum of montage. From 
another point of view, theater (even realist theater) used reality in the service 
of dramatic and spectacular structure. Whether in the service of the interests 
of an ideological thesis, of a moral idea, or of a dramatic action, realism subor- 
dinates what it borrows from reality to its transcendent needs. Neorealism 
knows only immanence. It is from appearance only, the simple appearance of 
beings and of the world, that it knows how to deduce the ideas that it unearths. 
It is a phenomenology. 

In the realm of means of expression, neorealism runs counter to the 
traditional categories of spectacle — above all, as regards acting. According 
to the classic understanding of this function, inherited from the theater, the 
actor expresses something: a feeling, a passion, a desire, an idea. From his 
attitude and his miming the spectator can read his face like an open book. In 
this perspective, it is agreed implicitly between spectator and actor that the 
same psychological causes produce the same physical effect and that one can 
without any ambiguity pass backwards and forwards from one to the other. 
This is, strictly speaking, what is called acting. 

The structures of the mise en scene flow from it: décor, lighting, the angle and 
framing of the shots, will be more or less expressionistic in their relation to the 



78 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



behavior of the actor. They contribute for their part to confirm the meaning 
of the action. Finally, the breaking up of the scenes into shots and their 
assemblage is the equivalent of an expressionism in time, a reconstruction of 
the event according to an artificial and abstract duration: dramatic duration. 
There is not a single one of these commonly accepted assumptions of the film 
spectacle that is not challenged by neorealism. 

First, the performance: it calls upon the actor to be before expressing 
himself. This requirement does not necessarily imply doing away with the 
professional actor but it normally tends to substitute the man in the street, 
chosen uniquely for his general comportment, his ignorance of theatrical 
technique being less a positively required condition than a guarantee against 
the expressionism of traditional acting. For De Sica, Bruno was a silhouette, 
a face, a way of walking. Second, the setting and the photography: the natural 
setting is to the artificial set what the amateur actor is to the professional. It 
has, however, the effect of at least partly limiting the opportunity for plastic 
compositions available with artificial studio lighting. 

But it is perhaps especially the structure of the narrative which is most 
radically turned upside down. It must now respect the actual duration of 
the event. The cuts that logic demands can only be, at best, descriptive. The 
assemblage of the film must never add anything to the existing reality. If it is 
part of the meaning of the film as with Rossellini, it is because the empty gaps, 
the white spaces, the parts of the event that we are not given, are themselves of 
a concrete nature: stones which are missing from the building. It is the same 
in life: we do not know everything that happens to others. Ellipsis in classic 
montage is an effect of style. In Rossellinis films it is a lacuna in reality, or 
rather in the knowledge we have of it, which is by its nature limited. 

Thus, neorealism is more an ontological position than an aesthetic one. 
That is why the employment of its technical attributes like a recipe does not 
necessarily produce it, as the rapid decline of American neorealism proves. 
In Italy itself not all films without actors, based on a news item, and tilmed 
in real exteriors, are better than the traditional melodramas and spectacles. 
On the contrary, a film like Cronaca di un amore (1950), by Michelangelo 
Antonioni can be described as neorealist (in spite of the professional actors, 
of the detective-story-like arbitrariness of the plot, of expensive settings, and 
the baroque dress of the heroine) because the director has not relied on an 
expressionism outside the characters; he builds all his effects on their way of 
life, their way of crying, of walking, of laughing. They are caught in the maze 
of the plot like laboratory rats being sent through a labyrinth. 

The diversity of styles among the best Italian directors might be advanced as 
a counter argument, and I know how much they dislike the word neorealist. 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



79 



Zavattini is the only one who shamelessly admits to the title. The majority 
protest against the existence of a new Italian school of realism that would 
include them all. But that is a reflex reaction of the creator to the critic. The 
director as artist is more aware of his differences than his resemblances. The 
word neorealist was thrown like a fishing net over the postwar Italian cinema 
and each director on his own is doing his best to break the toils in which, it is 
claimed, he has been caught. However, in spite of this normal reaction, which 
has the added advantage of forcing us to review a perhaps too easy critical 
classification, I think there are good reasons for staying with it, even against 
the views of those most concerned. 

Certainly the succinct definition I have just given of neorealism might 
appear on the surface to be given the lie by the work of Lattuada with its 
calculated, subtly architectural vision, or by the baroque exuberance, the 
romantic eloquence of De Santis, or by the refined theatrical sense of Visconti, 
who makes compositions of the most down-to-earth reality as if they were 
scenes from an opera or a classical tragedy. These terms are summary and 
debatable, but can serve for other possible epithets which consequently 
would confirm the existence of formal differences, of oppositions in style. 
These three directors are as different from one another as each is from De 
Sica, yet their common origin is evident if one takes a more general view and 
especially if one stops comparing them with one another and instead looks at 
the American, French, and Soviet cinema. 

Neorealism does not necessarily exist in a pure state and one can conceive 
of it being combined with other aesthetic tendencies. Biologists distinguish, 
in genetics, characteristics derived from different parents, so-called dominant 
factors. It is the same with neorealism. The exacerbated theatricality of 
Malapartes II Cristo proibito (1950) may owe a lot to German expressionism, 
but the film is nonetheless neorealist, radically different from the realist 
expressionism of a Fritz Lang. 

But I seem to have strayed a long way from De Sica. This was simply that I 
might be better able to situate him in contemporary Italian production. The 
difficulty of taking a critical stand about the director of Miracolo a Milano 
might indeed be precisely the real indication of his style. Does not our 
inability to analyze its formal characteristics derive from the fact that it repre- 
sents the purest form of neorealism, from the fact that Ladri di biciclette is the 
ideal center around which gravitate, each in his own orbit, the works of the 
other great directors? It could be this very purity which makes it impossible to 
denne, for it has as its paradoxical intention not to produce a spectacle which 
appears real, but rather to turn reality into a spectacle: a man is walking along 
the street and the onlooker is amazed at the beauty of the man walking. 



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Until further information is available, until the realization of Zavattinis 
dream of filming eighty minutes in the life of a man without a cut, Ladri di 
biciclette is without a doubt the ultimate expression of neorealism. Though this 
mise en scene aims at negating itself, at being transparent to the reality it reveals, 
it would be naive to conclude that it does not exist. Few films have been more 
carefully put together, more pondered over, more meticulously elaborated, but 
all this labor by De Sica tends to give the illusion of chance, to result in giving 
dramatic necessity the character of something contingent. Better still, he has 
succeeded in making dramatic contingency the very stuff of drama. Nothing 
happens in Ladri di biciclette that might just as well not have happened. The 
worker could have chanced upon his bicycle in the middle of the film, the lights 
in the auditorium would have gone up, and De Sica would have apologized for 
having disturbed us, but after all, we would be happy for the worker s sake. 

The marvelous aesthetic paradox of this film is that it has the relentless 
quality of tragedy while nothing happens in it except by chance. But it is 
precisely from the dialectical synthesis of contrary values, namely artistic 
order and the amorphous disorder of reality, that it derives its originality. 
There is not one image that is not charged with meaning, that does not drive 
home into the mind the sharp end of an unforgettable moral truth, and not 
one that to this end is false to the ontological ambiguity of reality. Not one 
gesture, not one incident, not a single object in the film is given a prior signifi- 
cance derived from the ideology of the director. 

If they are set in order with an undeniable clarity on the spectrum of social 
tragedy, it is after the manner of the particles of iron filings on the spectrum of 
a magnet — that is to say, individually; but the result of this art in which nothing 
is necessary, where nothing has lost the fortuitous character of chance, is in 
effect to be doubly convincing and conclusive. For, after all, it is not surprising 
that the novelist, the playwright, or the filmmaker should make it possible 
for us to hit on this or that idea, since they put them there beforehand, and 
have seeded their work with them. Put salt into water, let the water evaporate 
in the fire of reflection, and you will get back the salt. But if you find salt in 
water drawn directly from a stream, it is because the water is salty by nature. 
The workman, Bruno, might have found his bike just as he might have won 
in the lottery — even poor people win lotteries. But this potential capacity 
only serves to bring out more forcefully the terrible powerlessness of the poor 
fellow. If he found his bike, then the enormous extent of his good luck would 
be an even greater condemnation of society, since it would make a priceless 
miracle, an exorbitant favor, out of the return to a human order, to a natural 
state of happiness, since it would signify his good fortune at still being poor 
but able to make a living. 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



81 



It is clear to what an extent this neorealism differs from the formal concept 
which consists of decking out a formal story with touches of reality. As for the 
technique, properly so called, Ladri di biciclette, like a lot of other films, was 
shot in the street with nonprofessional actors but its true merit lies elsewhere: 
in not betraying the essence of things, in allowing them first of all to exist 
for their own sakes, freely; it is in loving them in their singular individuality. 
"My little sister reality," says De Sica, and she circles about him like the birds 
around Saint Francis. Others put her in a cage or teach her to talk, but De Sica 
talks with her and it is the true language of reality that we hear, the word that 
cannot be denied, that only love can utter. 

To explain De Sica, we must go back to the source of his art, namely to his 
tenderness, his love. The quality shared in common by Miracolo a Milano and 
Ladri di biciclette, in spite of differences more apparent than real, is De Sicas 
inexhaustible affection for his characters. It is significant then, in Miracolo 
a Milano, that none of the bad people, even the proud or treacherous ones, 
are antipathetic. The junkyard Judas who seils his companions' hovels to the 
vulgar Mobbi does not stir the least anger in the onlookers. Rather would he 
amuse us in the tawdry costume of the "villain" of melodrama, which he wears 
awkwardly and clumsily: he is a good traitor. In the same way the new poor, 
who in their decline still retain the proud ways of their former fine neighbor- 
hoods, are simply a special variety of that human fauna and are not therefore 
excluded from the vagabond community — even if they charge people a lira a 
sunset. And a man must love the sunset with all his heart to come up with the 
idea of making people pay for the sight of it, and to suffer this market of dupes. 

Besides, none of the principal characters in Ladri di biciclette is unsympa- 
thetic. Not even the thief. When Bruno finally manages to get his hands on 
him, the public would be morally disposed to lynch him, as the crowd could 
have done earlier to Bruno. But the spark of genius in this film is to force us 
to swallow this hatred the moment it is born and to renounce judgment, just 
as Bruno will refuse to bring chargés. The only unsympathetic characters in 
Miracolo a Milano are Mobbi and his acolytes, but basically they do not exist. 
They are only conventional symbols. The moment De Sica shows them to us 
at slightly closer quarters, we almost feel a tender curiosity stirring inside us. 
"Poor rich people," we are tempted to say, "how deceived they are." There are 
many ways of loving, even including the way of the inquisitor. The ethics and 
politics of love are threatened by the worst heresies. From this point of view, 
hate is often more tender, but the affection De Sica feels for his creatures is no 
threat to them; there is nothing threatening or abusive about it. It is courtly 
and discreet gentleness, a liberal generosity, and it demands nothing in return. 
There is no admixture of pity in it even for the poorest or the most wretched, 



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Miracle in Milan, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1951. 



because pity does violence to the dignity of the man who is its object. It is a 
burden on his conscience. 

The tenderness of De Sica is of a special kind and for this reason does 
not easily lend itself to any moral, religious, or political generalization. The 
ambiguities of Miracolo a Milano and Ladri di biciclette have been used by 
the Christian Democrats and by the Communists. So much the better: a 
true parable should have something for everyone. I do not think De Sica 
and Zavattini were trying to argue anybody out of anything. I would not 
dream of saying that the kindness of De Sica is of greater value than the third 
theological virtue [in addition to charity, the other two virtues are faith and 
hope] or than class consciousness, but I see in the modesty of his position 
a definite artistic advantage. It is a guarantee of its authenticity while, at the 
same time, assuring it a universal quality. 

This penchant for love is less a moral question than one of personal and 
ethnic temperament. As for its authenticity, this can be explained in terms 
of a naturally happy disposition developed in a Neapolitan atmosphere. But 
these psychological roots reach down to deeper layers than the consciousness 
cultivated by partisan ideologies. Paradoxically and in virtue of their unique 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



83 



quality, of their inimitable flavor, since they have not been classified in the 
categories of either morals or politics, they escape the latters censure, and 
the Neapolitan charm of De Sica becomes, thanks to the cinema, the most 
sweeping message of love that our times have heard since Chaplin. To anyone 
who doubted the importance of this love, it is enough to point out how quick 
partisan critics were to lay claim to it. What party indeed could afford to leave 
love to the other? In our day there is no longer a place for unattached love but 
since each party can with equal plausibility lay claim to being the proprietor of 
it, it means that much authentic and naive love scales the walls and penetrates 
the stronghold of ideologies and social theory. 

Let us be thankful to Zavattini and De Sica for the ambiguity of their 
position — and let us take care not to see it as just intellectual astuteness in 
the land of Don Camillo, a completely negative concern to give pledges on all 
sides in return for an all-around censorship clearance. On the contrary it is 
a positive striving after poetry, the stratagem of a person in love, expressing 
himself in the metaphors of his time, while at the same time making sure 
to choose such of them as will open the hearts of everyone. The reason why 
there have been so many attempts to give a political exegesis to Miracolo a 
Milano is that Zavattinis social allegories are not the final examples of this 
symbolism, these symbols themselves being simply the allegory of love. 
Psychoanalysts explain to us that our dreams are the very opposite of a free 
flow of images. When these express some fundamental desire, it is in order 
perforce to cross the threshold of the super-ego, hiding behind the mark of 
a two-fold symbolism, one general, the other individual. But this censorship 
is not something negative. Without it, without the resistance it offers to the 
imagination, dreams would not exist. 

There is only one way to think of Miracolo a Milano, namely as a reflection, 
on the level of a film dream, and through the medium of the social symbolism 
of contemporary Italy, of the warm heart of Vittorio De Sica. This would 
explain what seems bizarre and inorganic in this strange film: otherwise it is 
hard to understand the gaps in its dramatic continuity and its indifference to 
all narrative logic. 

In passing, we might note how much the cinema owes to a love for living 
creatures. There is no way of completely understanding the art of Flaherty, 
Renoir, Vigo, and especially Chaplin unless we try to discover beforehand 
what particular kind of tenderness, of sensual or sentimental affection, they 
reflect. In my opinion, the cinema more than any other art is particularly 
bound up with love. The novelist in his relations to his characters needs 
intelligence more than love; understanding is his form of loving. If the art 
of a Chaplin were transposed into literature, it would tend to lapse into 



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Miracle in Milan, dir. Vittorio De Ska, 1951. 



sentimentality; that is why a man like André Suarés [1866-1926], a man of 
letters par excellence, and evidently impervious to the poetry of the cinema, 
can talk about the "ignoble heart" of Chaplin when this heart brings to the 
cinema the nobility of myth. 

Every art and every stage in the evolution of each art has its specific scale 
of values. The tender, amused sensuality of Renoir, the more heartrending 
tenderness of Vigo, achieve on the screen a tone and an accent which no 
other medium of expression could give them. Between such feelings and the 
cinema there exists a mysterious affinity that is sometimes denied even to 
the greatest of men. No one better than De Sica can lay claim to being the 
successor to Chaplin. I have already remarked how as an actor he has a quality 
of presence, a light which subtly transforms both the scenario and the other 
actors to such an extent that no one can pretend to play opposite De Sica as 
he would opposite someone else. We in France have not hitherto known the 
brilliant actor who appeared in Camerinis films. He had to become famous 
as a director before he was noticed by the public. By then he no longer had 
the physique of a young leading man, but his charm survived, the more 
remarkable for being the less easy to explain. Even when appearing as just 
a simple actor in the films of other directors, De Sica was already himself a 
director since his presence modified the film and influenced its style. 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



85 



Chaplin concentrates on himself and within himself the radiation of his 
tenderness, which means that cruelty is not always excluded from his world; 
on the contrary, it has a necessary and dialectic relationship to love, as is 
evident from Monsieur Verdoux (1947). Charlie is goodness itself, projected 
onto the world. He is ready to love everything, but the world does not always 
respond. On the other hand, De Sica the director infuses into his actors the 
power to love that he himself possesses as an actor. Chaplin also chooses his 
east carefully but always with an eye to himself and to putting his character 
in a better light. We find in De Sica the humanity of Chaplin, but shared with 
the world at large. De Sica possesses the gift of being able to convey an intense 
sense of the human presence, a disarming grace of expression and of gesture 
which, in their unique way, are an irresistible testimony to man. Ricci (Ladri 
di biciclette), Toto (Miracolo a Milano), and Umberto D., although greatly 
differing in physique from Chaplin and De Sica, make us think of them. 

It would be a mistake to believe that the love De Sica bears for man, and 
forces us to bear witness to, is a form of optimism. If no one is really bad, 
if face to face with each individual human being we are forced to drop our 
accusation, as was Ricci when he caught up with the thief, we are obliged to 
say that the evil which undeniably does exist in the world is elsewhere than in 
the heart of man, that it is somewhere in the order of things. One could say 
it is in society and be partly right. In one way Ladri di biciclette, Miracolo a 
Milano, and Umberto D. (1952) are indictments of a revolutionary nature. If 
there were no unemployment it would not be a tragedy to lose one's bicycle. 
However, this political explanation does not cover the whole drama. De Sica 
protests the comparison that has been made between Ladri di biciclette and 
the works of Kafka on the grounds that his heros alienation is social and not 
metaphysical. True enough, but Kafkas myths are no less valid if one accepts 
them as allegories of social alienation, and one does not have to believe in a 
cruel God to feel the guilt of which Joseph K. is culpable. On the contrary, 
the drama lies in this: God does not exist; the last office in the castle is empty. 
Perhaps we have here the particular tragedy of todays world, the raising of a 
self-deifying social reality to a transcendental state. 

The troubles of Bruno and Umberto D. have their immediate and evident 
causes but we also observe that there is an insoluble residue comprised of the 
psychological and material complexities of our social relationships, which 
neither the high quality of an institution nor the good will of our neighbors 
can dispose of. The nature of the latter is positive and social, but its action 
proceeds always from a necessity that is at once absurd and imperative. This is, 
in my opinion, what makes this film so great and so rich. It renders a two-fold 
justice: one by way of an irrefutable description of the wretched condition of 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



the proletariat, another by way of the implicit and constant appeal of a human 
need that any society whatsoever must respect. It condemns a world in which 
the poor are obliged to steal from one another to survive (the police protect 
the rich only too well) but this imposed condemnation is not enough, because 
it is not only a given historical institution that is in question or a particular 
economic set-up, but the congenital indifference of our social organization, as 
such, to the fortuitousness of individual happiness. Otherwise Sweden could 
be the earthly paradise, where bikes are left along the sidewalk both day and 
night. 

De Sica loves mankind, his brothers, too much not to want to remove every 
conceivable cause of their unhappiness, but he also reminds us that every 
mans happiness is a miracle of love whether in Milan or anywhere else. A 
society that does not take every opportunity to smother happiness is already 
better than one which sows hate, but the most perfect still would not create 
love, for love remains a private matter between man and man. In what country 
in the world would they keep rabbit hutches in an oil field? In what other 
would the loss of an administrative document not be as agonizing as the theft 
of a bicycle? It is part of the realm of politics to think up and promote the 
objective conditions necessary for human happiness, but it is not part of its 
essential function to respect its subjective conditions. In the universe of De 
Sica, there lies a latent pessimism, an unavoidable pessimism we can never be 
grateful enough to him for, because in it resides the appeal of the potential of 
man, the witness to his final and irrefutable humanity. 

I have used the word love. I should rather have said poetry. These two 
words are synonymous or at least complementary. Poetry is but the active 
and creative form of love, its projection into the world. Although spoiled 
and laid waste by social upheaval, the childhood of the shoeshine boy has 
retained the power to transform his wretchedness in a dream. In France, in 
the primary schools, the children are taught to say, "Who steals an egg steals 
a bull." De Sicas formula is, "Who steals an egg is dreaming of a horse." Totos 
miraculous gift, which was handed on to him by his adopted grandmother, is 
to have retained from childhood an inexhaustible capacity for defense by way 
of poetry. 

The piece of business I tind most significant in Miracolo a Milano is that of 
Emma Gramatica rushing toward the spilled milk. It does not matter who else 
scolds Toto for his lack of initiative and wipes up the milk with a cloth, so long 
as the quick gesture of the old woman has as its purpose to turn the little catas- 
trophe into a marvelous game, a stream in the middle of a landscape of the 
same proportion. And so on to the multiplication tables, another profound 
terror of one's childhood, which, thanks to the little old woman, turns into a 



"Vittorio De Sica: Metteur en Scene" 



87 




Shoeshine, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1946. 



dream. City dweller Toto names the streets and the squares "four times four 
is sixteen" or "nine times nine is eighty-one," for these cold mathematical 
symbols are more beautiful in his eyes than the names of the characters of 
mythology. 

Here again we think of Charlie; he also owes to his childhood spirit his 
remarkable power of transforming the world to a better purpose. When 
reality resists him and he cannot materially change it — he switches its 
meaning. Take, for example, the dance of the rolls, in The Gold Rush (1925), 
or the shoes in the soup pot, with this proviso that, always on the defensive, 
Charlie reserves his power of metamorphosis for his own advantage, or, at 
most, for the benefit of the woman he loves. Toto on the other hand goes out 
to others. He does not give a moments thought to any benefit the dove can 
bring him, his joy lies in his being able to spread joy. When he can no longer 
do anything for his neighbor he takes it on himself to assume various shapes, 
now limping for the lame man, making himself small for the dwarf, blind for 
the one-eyed man. The dove is just an arbitrarily added possibility, to give 
poetry a material form, because most people need something to assist their 
imaginations. But Toto does not know what to do with himself unless it is for 
someone eises benefit. 



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Zavattini told me once: "I am like a painter standing before a field, who 
asks himself which blade of grass he should begin with." De Sica is the ideal 
director for a declaration of faith such as this. There is also the art of the 
playwright who divides the moments of life into episodes which, in respect of 
the moments lived, are what the blades of grass are to the held. To paint every 
blade of grass one must be the Douanier Rousseau. In the world of cinema one 
must have the love of a De Sica for creation itself. 



Chapter Eight 



"A Saint Becomes a 
Saint Only After the 
Fact: He aven over the 
Marshes" 



"Un saint ne Test quaprés: La fille des Marais" Cahiers du cinéma, n. 2 (May 1951), 
pp. 46-48, in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 60-64; 
translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

Italian film not only has good directors, it also has excellent cinematogra- 
phers, among whom Aldo Tonti (aka G. R. Aldo) is probably one of the best 
in the world. To be sure, a cinematographers art may lie in the direction of 
self-effacement, and Tonti has given us evidence of this. But it seems that in 
the last few years, more and more plastic composition has become the rule. 
This has become a way of integrating into realism a vivid and ornate theatri- 
cality, which is no less characteristic not only of Italian film but also of Italian 
artistic sensibility in general. One could even argue that this synthesis is more 
radically new than the neorealism of Bicycle Thieves (1948), which has always 
been present, as we know, in Italian film, even if not to so great an extent. 
Opposed to it was the publics more pronounced taste for spectacles with 
magnificent sets and mammoth crowds. 

In La terra trema (1948), for instance, one sees very well how Luchino 
Visconti, whose wonderful Ossessione (1942) had initiated the rebirth of 
Italian realistic cinema, strives to create a necessarily grand synthesis between 
the most rigorous verisimilitude, on the one hand, and the most plastic 
composition, on the other — a plasticity that necessarily completely transforms 



89 



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the verism. Whereas the taste for spectacular grandeur expressed itself in the 
past through the farne of the star, the magnitude of the set, or the number of 
wild animals deployed, it has come today to be totally subordinate to the most 
modest, down-to-earth subject matter. Viscontis fishermen are real fishermen, 
but they have the bearing of tragic princes or operatic leads, and the cinema- 
tography confers on their rags the aristocratic dignity of Renaissance brocade. 

Using the same cinematographer as Visconti did in La terra trema — the 
amazing Aldo — Augusto Genina has been no less concerned to play the game 
of realism in Heaven over the Marshes (1949). His peasants are as authentic 
as were Georges Rouquiers in Farrebique (1946). Whereas three quarters of 
Italian films, even those made in studios with professional actors, are post- 
synchronized, Genina recorded the sound on the spot, and his peasants really 
say . . . what they say When one considers the enormous difficulty of getting 
nonprofessional actors to speak as naturally as they behave (see, for example, 
Farrebique), one can appreciate the additional amount of work that Genina 
imposed on himself in order to obey the dictates of realism, right down to 
the least discernible details. If this were a minor work, one could regard these 
details as superfluous. But they are, in fact, part of a coherent aesthetic whole 
whose essential elements are laid down in the initial script. 

Heaven over the Marshes is a film about the circumstances that led to the 
canonization of little Maria Goretti, who was murdered at the age of fourteen 
by the boy whose sexual advances she had resisted. These factors made me 
fear the worst. Hagiography is already a dangerous exercise in itself, but, 
granted, there are some saints made to appear on stained-glass windows and 
others who seem destined for the painted plaster of Saint-Sulpice Church, 
whatever their standing in paradise might be. And the case of Maria Goretti 
doesnt seem to be a priori any more promising than that of Saint Thérése of 
Lisieux. Less even, for her biography is devoid of extraordinary events; hers is 
the life of the daughter of a poor family of farmhands in the Pontine marshes 
near Rome at the turn of the century. No visions, no voices, no signs from 
heaven: her regular attendance at catechism and the fervor of her first Holy 
Communion are merely the commonplace signals of a rather commonplace 
piety. Of course, there is her "martyrdom," but we have to wait until the last 
fifteen minutes of the film before it occurs, before "something finally happens." 

And even this martyrdom: what is it when you take a close look at it and 
judge the psychological motives behind it? A banal sex crime, a trivial news 
item devoid of dramatic originality: "Young Peasant Stabs Unwilling Girl to 
Death." And why? There is not a single aspect of this crime that doesnt have 
a natural explanation. The resistance of the girl is perhaps nothing but an 
exaggerated physiological response to the violation of her sense of decency, 



"A Saint Becomes a Saint Only After the Fact" 



91 




Heaven over the Marsh.es, dir. Augusto Genina, 1949. 



the reflex action of a frightened little animal. It's true that she invokes divine 
will and the threat of hellfire to resist Alessandro. However, it is not necessary 
to have recourse to the subtleties of psychoanalysis to understand how the 
imperatives of catechism and the mysticism of first Holy Communion could 
kindle the imagination of a frightened adolescent. 

Even if we take for granted that Marias Christian upbringing cant be made 
to substitute for her real, unconscious motives in determining behavior, 
that behavior still isn't convincing, for we sense that she does indeed love 
Alessandro. So why all this resistance, which can only have tragic conse- 
quences? Either it is a psychological reaction that is stronger than the hearts 
desire, or it really is the obedience to a moral precept; but isnt this taking 
morality to an absurd extreme, since it leads to the downfall of two beings who 
love each other? Moreover, before she dies, Maria asks Alessandro to forgive 
her for all the trouble she has caused him, that is, for driving him to kill her. 

It should not be surprising, therefore, that, at least in France, this saints life 
has disappointed the Christians even more than it has the non-believers. The 



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former dont find in it the requisite religious apologetics, and the latter dont 
find in it the necessary moral apologetics. All that we have here is the senseless 
crushing of a poor childs life — there are no unusual mitigating circumstances. 
Maria Goretti is neither Saint Vincent de Paul, nor Saint Teresa of Avila, nor 
even Bernadette Soubirous. But it is to Geninas credit that he made a hagiog- 
raphy that doesnt prove anything, above all not the sainthood of the saint. 
Herein lies not only the films artistic distinction but also its religious one. 
Heaven over the Marshes is a rarity: a good Catholic film. 

What was Geninas starting point? It was not simply to reject all the 
ornament that comes with the subject matter — the religious symbolism and, it 
goes without saying, the supernatural element of traditional hagiographies (a 
film such as Léon Carrés Monsieur Vincent [1947] also avoids these stumbling 
blocks). He set out to achieve much more than this: his goal was to create a 
phenomenology of sainthood. Geninas mise en scene is a systematic refusal 
not only to treat sainthood as anything but a fact, an event occurring in the 
world, but also to consider it from any point of view other than the external 
one. He looks at sainthood from the outside, as the ambiguous manifestation 
of a spiritual reality that is absolutely impossible to prove. 

The apologetic nature of most hagiographies supposes, by contrast, that 
sainthood is conferred a priori. Whether it be Saint Thérése of Lisieux or 
Saint Vincent de Paul, we are told the life of a saint. Yet, good logic dictates, 
as does good theology, that a saint becomes a saint only after the fact: when 
he is canonized; during his lifetime, he is simply Monsieur Vincent. It is only 
by the authoritative judgment of the Holy See that his biography becomes a 
hagiography. The question raised in film as in theology is the retroactiveness 
of eternal salvation, since, obviously, a saint does not exist as a saint in the 
present: he is simply a being who becomes one and who, moreover, risks 
eternal damnation until his death. Geninas bias in favor of realism made him 
go as far as to prohibit in any of his images the supposition of his protagonists 
"sainthood," so afraid was he of betraying the spirit of his endeavor. She is not, 
and she must not be, a saint whose martyrdom we witness, but rather the little 
peasant girl Maria Goretti, whose life we see her live. The camera lens is not 
the eye of God, and microphones could not have recorded the voices heard 
by Joan of Are. 

This is why Heaven over the Marshes will be disconcerting to viewers who 
are used to an apologetics that confuses rhetoric with art and sentiment with 
grace. In a way, Genina plays devils advocate by playing servant to the only 
filmic reality possible. But just as canonization hearings are won against the 
public prosecutor Satan, Maria Gorettis sainthood is served in the only valid 
manner possible by a film that expressly sets out not to demonstrate it. In 



"A Saint Becomes a Saint Only After the Fact" 



93 



short, Genina tells us: "This is Maria Goretti, watch her live and die. On the 
other hand, you know she is a saint. Let those who have eyes to see, read by 
transparence the evidence of grace in her life, just as you must do at every 
moment in the events of your own lives." The signs that God sends to his 
people are not always supernatural. A serpent in a bush is not the devil, but 
the devil is still there as well as everywhere else. 



Chapter Nine 



Neorealism, Opera, 
and Propag-anda" 
(Forbidden Christ) 



"Néo-réalisme, opera et propagande {Le Christ interdit)" Cahiers du cinéma, n. 4 
(July-August 1951), 46-51. Translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

The fact that Curzio Malapartes public personality is an object of scandal 
does not make a review of Forbidden Christ (1950) an easy task. The angry 
contempt that this pictures author inspires is certainly often based on 
unfavorable prejudice, which was reflected by his exclusion from the list of 
honorees at this years Cannes Film Festival. But, conversely, I fear that the 
effort at critical objectivity necessary to overcome this prejudice may make 
me go to the opposite extreme. In short, I do not want the little moral respect 
I have for Mr. Malaparte to prompt me to declare that Forbidden Christ is, 
"after all," a masterpiece. For I believe that such indeed is the paradox of this 
astonishing film: that it should so deeply bear the mark of a personality which 
is almost deprived of nobility and that it should be a great film all the same. 

I must perhaps first make a distinction between the explicit content of this 
work and its aesthetic realization, between its ideological "message" and the 
form in which that message is east. But this distinction seems to introduce a 
second paradox, because Forbidden Christ is a thesis film, that is, a genre that 
is difficult to defend even when one agrees with the thematic intention of the 
author, and all the more so when one has strong reasons to disagree with it. 
Let me try, then, to explain these two paradoxes. 

The value of Forbidden Christ certainly proceeds in the first place from 
its authors personality. Its success follows in a line of outstanding films 



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"Neorealism, Opera, and Propaganda" (Forbidden Christ) 



95 



from Cocteaus Blood of a Poet (1930) to Welless Citizen Kane (1941) and 
up to Malrauxs Mans Hope (1945). This success once again demonstrates a 
contrario the professional rigidity, technical onerousness, and other similar 
problems that weigh negatively on film production throughout the world, 
such that perhaps it is a good practice to ignore everything that surrounds the 
making of cinema if one is going to be able to make a good film. 

We have been told that Malaparte had a good assistant. Perhaps. We had also 
been told the same thing about Orson Welles. But if Malapartes assistant had 
had some genius, he would not have waited until Forbidden Christ to show it. 
It is nevertheless plausible that he knew his job to perfection and that he was 
extremely useful to Malaparte, in that he allowed the director to do his work 
without having to go through a burdensome apprenticeship. This was true of 
Welles as well, who was lucky to have the cinematographer Gregg Toland as 
his collaborator on Citizen Kane. It is simply childish, however, to ignore the 
obvious in this case: that Curzio Malaparte remains the one and only author 
of Forbidden Christ, and that this author was until this film a writer who had 
never seen a camera. 

It is unthinkable, though, that a novelist could become from one day to 
the next a virtuoso accordionist or an extremely talented painter if he hadnt 
first gone to some music or fine arts school. The great neoclassical artist 
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres himself had to learn how to play the violin, if 
only to play it badly. We are always told about filmmaking that the enormity of 
its technical demands makes it the opposite of all the "individual" arts: music 
could be played only on a pipe if you so desired; painting can be done on a 
piece of cardboard with just a few colors; and poetry can be written in a small 
room on a piece of scrap paper. Still, although the material contingencies of 
filmmaking have a heavy influence on the production system, they weigh less 
than a feather at the level of the directing. 

It was indeed miraculous that Jean Cocteau found Charles, the Viscount of 
Noailles, to finance the making of The Blood of a Poet, but Cocteau learned 
how to make a movie faster than how to clean his pipe. It is precisely the 
technical complexity of filmmaking, which is dialectically opposed to the 
simplicity and realism of the cinematic image, that frees the author-director 
from all constraints and allows him to dispense with useless initiations to the 
profession. Learning how to write takes a long time; learning how to make 
a film is immediate: all you have to do is go to the movies. For the rest, the 
assistants, the photographers, the sound engineers, and the electricians are 
there. From a strictly aesthetic point of view, there is no art whose exercise is 
simpler than this one. It is Christopher Columbuss egg, and a golden egg, to 
be sure: an utterly brilliant discovery that seems obvious only after the fact. 



96 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The honest pessimists will admit that Forbidden Christ is an extraordinary 
film, but they will invoke the charm and daring of ignorance to explain its 
creation. They will say that its strange beauty originates, in fact, from an indif- 
ference to the rules of directing on the part of an intelligent writer who has 
a visual talent, but they will warn us against the limitations of such success. 
Cocteau says that Chaplin admired a certain cut of the camera in The Blood of 
a Poet because it was completely heretical. But this was only an editing error 
that the author would not have permitted himself in his second film. One 
could phrase the matter as follows: "If the heavens, helped by masochistic or 
unconscious capitalists, were to sting novelists and poets with the cinematic 
venom, we would be graced with many a thrilling film, but their general 
benefit for the art of cinema could only be illusory. Ultimately, cinema is made 
by the likes of André Berthomieu and René Clair. Exceptions like Cocteau and 
Malaparte just confirm the rule." 

I would answer, quite the contrary, that these filmic exceptions all have an 
aesthetic significance of exceptional importance, that the absence of follow-up 
films on the part of the author is beside the point, and that the only thing 
one should deduce from such an absence is the victorious revenge of routine. 
Citizen Kane happened to triumph over Hollywood and to force a lasting 
reconsideration of technical habits and routines; even The Blood of a Poet 
has had some influence, though it may be owed entirely and exclusively to 
Cocteau. And although it is true that, for various reasons, Mans Hope has not 
had a direct influence on film production, one can very well discern in it a 
posteriori its prophetic quality. 

As early as 1936, André Malraux had posited the principles of both neore- 
alism — which was to triumph ten years later — and the film adaptation of 
novels, a vein that is far from exhausted. The prewar critics who saw in Mans 
Hope only the fluke of individual genius, without any resonance apart from 
Malrauxs literary work, thus seriously underestimated this films aesthetic 
significance. Relatively speaking, and of course without granting to Forbidden 
Christ the intrinsic as well as extrinsic importance of Mans Hope, it is 
nonetheless possible to situate the originality of Malapartes film in the context 
of contemporary cinema in general and of Italian neorealism in particular. 

I have underlined in connection with Augusto Geninas Heaven over the 
Marshes (1949) the efforts of Italian filmmakers to "go beyond" neorealism 
and in fact to go back through neorealism to the theatrical and spectacular 
tradition that is dialectically opposed to it. Neorealism has not been the flash 
in the pan to which some skeptics thought they could reduce it, but it is true 
that this style is now nearing its limits. After De Sicas Bicycle Thieves (1948), 
which is to Italian neorealism what Racines Phaedra (1677) is to French 



"Neorealism, Opera, and Propaganda" (Forbidden Christ) 



97 



neoclassicism, neorealism probably has more of a past than a future, at least 
in its pure form of the dramaturgy of everyday events. It is significant that it is 
precisely De Sica who should have made Miracle in Milan (1951), thus moving 
from the realistic style of Lumiére to the fantastic one of Méliés. Onto the 
solid and vital staff of realism, Italian filmmakers obviously have tried to graft 
different styles: Visconti with La terra tretna (1948), Antonioni in Story of a 
Love Affair (1950), Genina in Heaven over the Marshes, and Lattuada with The 
Mill on the Po (1949) — all of these venture down divergent paths, but neore- 
alism is their common crossroads in the movement away from the formalist 
tradition against which postwar Italian cinema seemed to be directly reacting. 

It is in such an evolution, beginning in neorealism but diverging from 
it, that one must first situate Forbidden Christ, which is one of the most 
significant examples of this trend. In this respect, and with regard to Italian 
cinema, Malaparte more or less consciously goes back to a certain theatrical 
vein, a particular cinematic bel canto, inspired by Giovanni Pastrones Cabiria 
(1914) as it were, but more generally by the Italian artistic temperament itself. 
This remark is made to appease those who are reluctant to acknowledge in 
Malaparte too much cinematic creativity, but I should add immediately that 
Forbidden Christ has an absolute originality of its own, such that there is little 
point in trying to reduce it to any earlier artistic manifestations or traditions. 

Starting from neorealism, whose essential characteristics (natural settings, 
realistic make-up and costumes, nonprofessional walk-ons, etc.) he respects, 
Malaparte uses it with a certain freedom that verges on fantasy. Although 
real, his landscapes are as fantastic as the day after the end of the world. 
Bruno Baldis village and the relativistic treatment of the architecture, as well 
as the characters, seem issued directly from a de Chirico painting. If this 
universe of stone, of earth, and of men is nevertheless as real as it would be 
in a documentary, its time and its space are as unreal and artificial as those of 
nightmares and tragedies. The action proceeds not at all according to logical 
or psychological necessity, but as it would in the world of parables. The living 
beings are therefore there when it is necessary, where it is necessary, according 
to a transcendent causality that owes nothing to chance or accident. They do 
not step into the shot, they appear in it. 

The concrete duration of the action itself is indiscernible, just as it is within 
the twenty-four-hour framework of a classical tragedy. The geographical 
space is equally stylized, reduced to dramatic areas or locations where events 
polarized by destiny take place: the countryside around the village, which 
shows the lunar face of a planet devastated by history; the squares, the 
walls, the streets, the houses — all of these are not those of a village like any 
other with its days and its nights, but part of a labyrinth conniving with the 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Forbidden Christ, dir. Curzio Malaparte, 1950. 



minotaur that Bruno has come to fight. The living beings who inhabit it are, 
like him, masked in enigma, remoteness, silence. Even the eyes of love look 
inward to leave this loved one to his loneliness. Tragic convention reigns in 
this film, then, and it does so with crushing efficiency. Unlike the theater, the 
cinema invents here a visible, concrete Mount Olympus that is as true as light 
and sun. One need mention only two scenes in order to grasp clearly the role 
that Malaparte thus gives to space and time in Forbidden Christ. 

First, the scene at the fair, leading up to the drama of the cross, which is 
treated as a dramatic ballet within the well-specified framework of the market 
square, with the movement of the crowd that turns away from the stands, 
the carousels, and the fire-eaters in order to gather in front of the natural 
proscenium where the cross has been erected. An extraordinarily agile, 
continuous, and descriptive piece of editing takes us along with the hero, into 
the crowd. This sequence is then brutally interrupted by a cut to the quick 
hammering rhythm of the drums of the procession; a series of close-ups 
dissolves the unity of the previous space and the duration of the action inside 
it, but brings them back together again in a new rhythm at the other end of 
the square. The camera next flies over the crowd, which looks like an ant hill; 
it shows from above the entire dramatic area that it had earlier revealed to us 



"Neorealism, Opera, and Propaganda" (Forbidden Christ) 



99 



only at ground level. Everything is orchestrated in a relentless choreographic 
tempo, with a surprisingly rigorous sense of the complementary roles of 
camera movement, editing, and character placement. 

The scene of the suspended execution is less complex but even more 
significant. It takes place in two different locations: the market square of the 
village and the countryside around it. The announcement of the event causes 
some commotion in the population, as the women gather in a chorus and 
overwhelm the hero with their silent reprobation. After forgiveness is granted, 
everybody goes back to the village. The return of Bruno is tilmed from very 
high up; he enters the square where, in expectation of the murder, all life 
seems as though it has coagulated into motionless human groups. Time itself 
seems suspended: it is no longer that of everyday life, of reality, but that of 
tragedy. When destiny is vanquished, life can resume: as Bruno appears, the 
churchs beil strikes the hour, and suddenly it is as if nothing had happened; 
time flows again, indifferent to the hero as well as to the one who was to be his 
victim, dogs bark, and mens lives resume, oblivious to the gods. 

Malaparte evidences this exceptional feeling for stylization not only in these 
scenes but also in the dialogue. Take, for instance, the conversation on the bed 
where the fiancée admits that she is having an affair with Brunos brother, as 
the position of their bodies seems to offer them up for crucifrxion on the very 
diagonals of the screen. Lets not dwell on it here, but there are few works in 
which one can witness such a masterful control of the plastic significance of 
cinematic space and the figurative significance of screen time. Malaparte may 
be "neorealist" if one judges him by the currency or relevance of his subject 
matter and the very substance of his film, but this realism expresses itself in 
Forbidden Christ in the aesthetics of dream, tragedy, and opera. Let me now 
judge this film in comparison with the rest of the worlds cinematic output 
during the 1950-1951 season. 

Forbidden Christ is a film with a thesis or, more accurately, a propaganda 
film. The whole aesthetic of the picture is thus geared toward eloquent 
rhetoric. The problem is that didacticism, apologetics, and politics still remain 
the major scandals — and virtual unknowns — of the cinema. Novels, paintings, 
and plays with a thesis have themselves not survived the nineteenth century. 
The least we can say about the current attempts to restore the genre, in art as 
in literature, is that they are hardly convincing. Only the screen has provided 
the twentieth century with unquestionable instances of a propagandistic art 
that can sustain comparison with any of the classical aesthetic categories. 
But it also appears that the wonderful conjunction of politics and art that 
established the grandeur of the Soviet cinema from 1925 to the mid-1930s is 
a well-kept secret, partially and episodically retrieved by contemporary Soviet 



100 André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Forbidden Christ, dir. Curzio Malaparte, 1950. 



cinema in a chance scene, or part of it, but never on the scale of whole works 
with their concepts intact. It would be childish, however, to remain blind to 
the current ideological needs of art. It does not matter if communism is the 
direct cause of this blindness or reactionism: the cinema cannot afford to 
ignore its own propagandistic power, even less so today, in 1951, than in 1925. 
The ideas of our time will use it, with or without artistic merit — and use it with 
all efflciency. 

But whatever we think — and I think mostly bad things — about what Curzio 
Malaparte wants to tell us, he says it with eloquence. It has generally been 
admitted that his film contains some beautiful moments of "silent cinema," 
only to be followed by disparaging comments about this pictures endless 
wordiness. That would amount to a genuine misunderstanding, though, 
because Malapartes fundamental originality in Forbidden Christ lies precisely 
in the relationship he introduces between word and image. The crucial 



"Neorealism, Opera, and Propaganda" (Forbidden Christ) 



101 



moment of any film adaptation of a novel, which Malraux aptly called "the 
transition to dialogue," becomes here the transition to speechifying. 

Let me stress that, paradoxically, such speechifying even haunted the silent 
Soviet cinema. How could an ideological cinema do totally without words, 
which still remain the surest way if not to persuade viewers, at least to 
communicate ideas to them? After all, speeches — the harangues of a meeting 
or an assembly — are the capital events of political life. A silent revolution 
would be an historical monster. But filming the facial expressions of a mute 
orator would be a ridiculous act whose horror is surpassed only by the 
addition of the sound of his voice. Useful and economical in political reality, 
speeches are among the most terrifying stumbling blocks of propaganda films. 
Should cinema, then, renounce the recourse to speech in a genre that really 
cannot not do without it? It is for this aesthetic contradiction that Malaparte 
seems to have found an aesthetically satisfying solution. 

People talk a lot in Forbidden Christ, but their speeches are a lot like opera- 
singing: the dialogue has no pretense to dramatic or psychological realism; 
it is a kind of ideological bel canto prepared for by the orchestration of the 
images. Yet it is the stylization of these images that elevates the words to the 
highest level. There is no discrepancy, then, between the films speeches and its 
visual expression, but there is a dialectical alternation between two modes of 
eloquence, one of them having in itself no more importance than the libretto 
of an opera. To be sure, the ideas of Curzio Malaparte are as meaningless as 
his talent is great, and this distinction is made possible precisely because we 
are dealing here with the aesthetics of propaganda; but the fact that such a 
distinction is possible at all is already a achievement, for the traditional curse 
of authors who have a thesis to defend is that they usually fail on both counts: 
that is, on the levels of both art and propaganda. 

Perhaps we should demand nothing more from ideological cinema than a 
kind of formalism that is open to the defense of any idea or action. This, after 
all, is what we expect from a good lawyer; it does remain, however, that a 
lawyer with a solid case is more convincing to us. It is Emile Zolas declaration 
"Jaccuse" (1898) that has become famous, not Jean-Herold Paquiss Fascist 
diatribes during the war, even if Paquis was not the worst of Ciceros students. 
This is why Forbidden Christ is a failure with regard to its authors explicit 
intentions. But the mediocrity of Malapartes cause should not blind us to the 
strength of his plea. The films admirable technique deserves to be praised all 
the more since it seems to me to be independent of its political content. 

It is thus legitimate to distinguish in Forbidden Christ between two radically 
different levels of expression: that of artistic form, which is akin, as we 
have seen, to the structures of tragedy and fantasy; and that of ideological 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



discourse. The latter of itself does not fit into any of the traditional aesthetic 
categories: it borrows from them only their efflcacy, even as the opera libretto 
does from the singers in tandem with the orchestra. And the prosaicism if not 
persuasiveness of the ideological discourse — of the ideas — benefits from the 
lyrical stylization of the story; as such, the text exists only in the mode of the 
recitative, the duet, and the chorus. 

I would happily compare Forbidden Christ to the final experiments of Sergei 
Eisenstein. The obvious formalism of Alexander Nevsky (1938) and of Ivan 
the Terrible (1944) had only the most accidental of relationships with these 
films' historical theses. (It may be necessary to recall here that Eisenstein has 
made his self-criticism of Ivan the Terrible only in regard to its screenplay and 
historicism, and not at all in regard to the directing — as some people too often 
think.) With the different kind of genius Eisenstein obviously had, he tried 
to find, just as Malaparte is doing in his film, a new solution to the demands 
of propaganda in a certain expressiveness or theatricalization of the mise en 
scene that was akin to opera. The result was absolutely great, but it was also 
clearly a dead end, because Eisenstein, as he was paradoxically turning away 
from realism, went back to the German expressionism of the 1920s with his 
production of The Battleship Potemkin (1925), thus reneging on twenty years 
of cinematic evolution. The cunning, if not the genius, of Curzio Malaparte 
is to perform the same operation all over again, starting from neorealism 
and similarly shortchanging the evolution of cinema. His propaganda piece 
known as Forbidden Christ is to contemporary film what Gian Carlo Menottis 
opera The Consul (1950) is to the lyric repertoire. 



Chapter Ten 

The Road to Hope 



"Le chemin de lespérance (Il cammino della speranza)" Cahiers du cinéma, n. 
20 (February 1952), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), 
pp. 65-67; translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

The Road to Hope (1950) is one of the most beautiful postwar Italian films on 
the eminently epic, and hence cinematic, theme of the journey to the Promised 
Land. Some Sicilians, who have been reduced to unemployment by the closing 
down of the sulfur mines, leave with their families for France, where a crooked 
labor recruiter has promised them they will find work. The road is long, from 
the snows of Mount Etna to those of the Saint Gothard Pass [in the Alps on the 
border between France and Italy] . Abandoned by their guide, hunted down 
by the police, chased by the farm workers whose strike they have unwittingly 
broken to earn a few lire, the survivors of this illegal emigration finally get to 
see the Promised Land from the top of a pass in the Alps, which an officer of 
the Alpine police will compassionately allow them to descend. 

This "European" happy ending should not mislead us as to the real ending 
called for by the film: Sisyphuses to their misery and their despair, these 
Sicilians cannot but be driven back once more up the symbolic slopes of 
Mount Etna because of the social chaos that awaits them below. Thus the 
Promised Land is in fact just an absurd paradise where only grapes of wrath 
can grow. One can only regret Pietro Germis concessionary and timid 
attitude toward this wonderful subject, which he doesnt always treat with the 
necessary rigor. A nasty crime story, complete with sentimental complication, 
needlessly encumbers the film, apparently for the edification of all the house- 
wives of the world. His only excuse for this strand, and almost a valid one, is 
the taciturn beauty of Elena Varzi, whose stubborn brow bears the mark of 
the saber of destiny. 



103 



104 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




The Road to Hope, dir. Pietro Germi, 1950. 



Pietro Germi is a young director in whom some Italian critics would like 
to see a brilliant hope for the future. It's possible, if he isn't consumed first by 
formalism or by a harking back to Eisensteinian rhetoric, to which Germis 
In the Name of the Law (1949) and above all his recent II brigante di Tacca 
del Lupo (1952) dangerously testify more than does The Road to Hope. But 
if The Road to Hope is a far cry from the masterpieces of neorealism, it can 
at least pride itself on indicating more clearly than other films the shift that 
has occurred in Italian filmmaking, the transformation from a neorealism 
of war, if you will (Rome, Open City [1945], Paisan [1946], Shoeshine [1946], 
and other films inspired by the Liberation and its aftermath), to a neorealism 
of peace, to which De Sicas Bicycle Thieves (1948) stands as the unforgettable 
introduction. 

The fact is that the social reality of postwar Italy remains essentially dramatic, 
or even more precisely: tragic. The fear of misery because of unemployment 
plays the role of a fateful menace in the lives of the people. Living means 
trying to escape from this predicament. Working and, through work, keeping 
ones basic human dignity, the right to minimal happiness and love — these are 
the sole concerns of the protagonists of Renato Castellanis Two Cents' Worth 
of Hope (1951), just as they are of the protagonists of The Road to Hope or 
Bicycle Thieves. Of this fundamental theme, upon which screenwriters can 
fashion a thousand variations, one could say that it is the negative of the theme 
that inspires perhaps more than half of all American films. 




The Road to Hope, dir. Pietro Germi, 1950. 

Many scripts, most of them written for American comedies, are in fact built 
on the pursuit of wealth or at least on the obsession with success, which for 
women means the conquest of some Prince Charming who is the heir to an 
industrial tycoon. Conversely, the neorealistic protagonist does not dream at 
all of asserting himself through ambition: he simply tries not to let himself 
be overcome by misery. Because unemployment can make him lapse into 
nothingness, "two cents' worth of hope" are enough to buy his happiness. So, 
as one might have surmised, the documentary substance of Italian neorealism 
achieves the dignity of art only insofar as it rediscovers in itself the great 
dramatic archetypes upon which our empathy is, and always will be, founded. 



Chapter Eleven 

~Tvro Cents' Worth of 
Hope" 

"Deux sous lespoir," France-Observateur (July 1952), in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 
4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 68-72; translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

The Italian critics have said that neorealism doesnt exist, and the French critics 
that it wont last. I think that in reality only Cesare Zavattini and Roberto 
Rossellini have unabashedly embraced the term, although each has attached a 
different meaning to it. If you want to hurt any other Italian filmmaker, all you 
have to do is congratulate him on his contribution to neorealism. In truth the 
Italians are more irritated than pleased with the success they have had under 
this generic label; consequently, each one defends himself against the terms 
suggestion of a unified movement. There are probably two related reasons 
for this. The first is completely psychological and quite understandable: the 
irritation of any artist who is conscious of his uniqueness, which the critics 
attempt to smother with an historical classification. Neorealism throws 
apples and oranges into the same bag. There is at least as much difference, for 
example, among Alberto Lattuada, Luchino Visconti, and Vittorio De Sica as 
there is among Marcel Carné, Jean Renoir, and Jacques Becker. Yet with the 
term "neorealism," the critics often seem to be implying that Italian film exists 
as a movement, as a collective sensibility, rather than as a series of individual 
talents. One can understand the filmmakers' reaction. 

But more important still than these natural reactions of artistic pride, it 
seems to me, is the bias against "realism." When neorealism first astonished 
the world, critics praised everything that was documentary about it, its sense 
of social reality — in short, everything that made it look like a news report. The 
Italian filmmakers rightly realized the danger that lay in that kind of praise. 



106 



"Two Cents' Worth of Hope" 



107 



The prestige of a documentary could only be accidental and minor. Once the 
exoticism of authentic documentaries, on the one hand, and the bias in their 
favor due to the war, on the other, had worn off, the popularity of Italian film 
would not have lasted if it had been grounded only in realism. Indeed, art 
aims to go beyond reality, not to reproduce it. And this is even truer of film 
because of its technical realism, its ability to reproduce reality so easily. The 
Italian directors, then, continue to resist as much as they can when the critics 
try to place the yoke of neorealism around their necks. 

We often marveled in France at the success of Italian film production 
during the years 1946 and 1947, as if it were a sort of miracle, or at the very 
least the dazzling result of favorable, though precarious, circumstances: the 
sudden fertilization by the Liberation of an old and minor tendency in Italian 
film [the realist or "verismo" style from the years 1913-1916, inspired by the 
writings of Verga and Zola]. But such unforeseen brilliance could only be that 
of a nova, and as such couldnt last. Besides, a type of filmmaking that would 
lay more stress on the material photographed than on the subject treated, on 
the pictorial rather than on the narrative — that would substitute reality for the 
imagination — would sooner or later have to lose its luster. 

Bicycle Thieves (1948) was the first great work to prove, not only that neore- 
alism could survive very well without the themes of the Liberation, that its 
subject matter was by no means directly linked to the war or its aftermath, 
but also that neorealisrns apparent lack of "story," of plot or action, was not 
in the least a sign of its inferiority to the structures of classical film narrative. 
De Sica and Zavattinis film has at once the accidental freedom of life seen 
through a window and the relentless force of ancient tragedy. For those who 
still have doubts about the present and future vigor of neorealism, Renato 
Castellanis Two Cents' Worth of Hope (1951), which received the Grand Prize 
this year at the Cannes Film Festival, presents another irrefutable argument. 
This pure masterpiece, although its tone is quite different from that of Bicycle 
Thieves, proves once again that the Italian cinema has managed to discover a 
new relationship between the realistic calling of film and the eternal demands 
of dramatic poetry. 

Two Cents' Worth of Hope is the story of an unemployed Romeo by the 
name of Antonio. After being discharged from military service, he goes 
back to his native village, where his mother and young sisters are as poverty- 
stricken as when he left them. With fierce determination he looks for work, 
but life is tough and unemployment is the common lot of many men his age. 
Because he is ready to take anything, even the dirtiest of jobs, he will from 
time to time find employment; most often it will be for a very short period, 
although sometimes theres a chance it will last. But then there is Juliet. Her 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Two Cents' Worth of Hope, dir. Renato Castellani, 1951. 



name is Carmela, she is fifteen or sixteen years old, and she is the daughter 
of a respectable firecracker manufacturer who doesnt want to hear about the 
possibility of an unemployed son-in-law. 

In fact, though, Antonio has only a very slight weakness for this girl who is 
enamored of him. He had forgotten her while he was in the army. He tries to 
get rid of her, since he has enough worries for the moment trying to feed his 
family. But Carmela elings to Antonio with incredible patience and cunning; 
she looks for every opportunity to arouse him and to compromise them both 
in the eyes of the village and her parents. The principal result of her plotting is 
that Antonio loses the jobs he had so painfully managed to find, among them 
a peculiar one as the private blood donor to the anemic child of a Neapolitan 
bourgeoise. Thus, not only does Antonio not want Carmela at all, but also 
her indiscreet attentions to him jeopardize the marriage she dreams of, since, 
without a job, Antonio caht even think of marrying her. 

Carmelas love strategy has paradoxical results, however. Even though he 
has many reasons to hate her, Romeo finally begins to be attracted to Juliet. 
Hes not going to let it be said that his life has been poisoned to such an extent 
by a girl he does not even love. So many problems at least deserve a wife, 
but her father, the firecracker manufacturer, refuses to give his blessing. He 
accuses Antonio of trying to force his way into an honorable and relatively 
well-off family. Mad with wounded dignity, Antonio strips Carmela bare on 
the village square: he will take her naked, just as she was born; her only dowry 
will be the two cents' worth of hope that enable poor people to go on living. 



"Two Cents' Worth of Hope" 



109 




Two Cents' Worth of Hope, dir. Renato Castellani, 1951. 



One can see that this story doesnt have the tragic ending of Romeo and 
Juliet [a version of which Castellani (1913-1985) went on to make in 1954: 
Giulietta e Romeo]. But one cannot help thinking of their love story in 
connection with this film, not only because of certain precise analogies, such 
as the antagonism between the families, but also, and above all, because of 
the extraordinary poetry of the sentiments and the passions, the thoroughly 
Shakespearean imagination that inspires them. 

One can easily understand why and how neorealism has managed to 
triumph over its aesthetic contradictions in this marvelous film. Castellani 
is one of those whom the label "neorealist" irritates. And yet, his film 
completely observes the canons of neorealism: it is a remarkable report 
on rural unemployment in the Vesuvian region of contemporary Italy. All 
the characters are naturally drawn from the premises (especially Antonios 
mother, an incredible gossip who is toothless, loud, and delightfully sly). 
The scripts structure, for its part, is typically neorealistic: the episodes are 
not causally connected, or, in any event, they lack dramatic necessity. The 
narrative is rhapsodic, and the film would last two more hours with no effect 
whatsoever on its unity. This is because the events dont stretch along an a 
priori continuum; they follow one another accidentally, like events in real life. 

But it goes without saying that the reality of Two Cents' Worth of Hope is 
that of poetry itself, and that freer, less obvious harmonies are substituted 
in this tale for dramatic necessities. I mean "tale" here in the Oriental sense, 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Romeo and Juliet, dir. Renato Castellani, 1954. 



which suggests a simple, leisurely story, more or less loosely organized. 
Thus, Castellani perfectly realizes the paradox of giving us one of the most 
beautiful, most pure love stories in the history of film, evoking Marivaux and 
Shakespeare in the process, while at the same time he gives us the most exact 
account, the most ruthless indictment, of Italian rural poverty in 1951. 



Chapter Twelve 



Umberto D.: A Grreat 
Work'' 



"Un grande æuvre: Umberto D." France-Observateur (October 1952), in Quest-ce 
que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), pp. 331-335; translated into 
English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 (Univ. of California Press, 1971), 
pp. 79-82, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

Until I saw Umberto D. (1952), I considered Ladri di biciclette (1948) as having 
reached the uttermost limits of neorealism so far as the concept of narrative 
is concerned. It seems to me today that Ladri di biciclette falls far short of 
the ideal Zavattini subject. Not that I consider Umberto D. superior. The 
unmatchable superiority of Ladri di biciclette still resides in the paradox of 
its having reconciled radically opposite values: factual freedom and narrative 
discipline. But the authors only achieve this by sacrificing the continuum of 
reality. In Umberto D. one catches a glimpse, on a number of occasions, of 
what a truly realist cinema of time could be, a cinema of "duration." 

These experiments in continuous time are not new in cinema. Alfred 
Hitchcocks Rope (1948), for example, runs for eighty uninterrupted minutes. 
But there it was just a question of action such as we have in the theater. 
The real problem is not the continuity of the exposed film but the temporal 
structure of the incident. Rope could be filmed without a change of focus, 
without any break in the shots, and still provide a dramatic spectacle, because 
in the original play the incidents were already set in order dramatically 
according to an artificial time — theatrical time — just as there is musical time 
and dance time. 

In at least two scenes of Umberto D. the problem of subject and script take 
on a different aspect. In these instances it is a matter of making "life time" — the 



111 



112 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



simple continuing to be of a person to whom nothing in particular happens — 
take on the quality of a spectacle, of a drama. I am thinking in particular of 
when Umberto D. goes to bed, having retired to his room thinking he has 
a fever and, especially, of the little servant girls awakening in the morning. 
These two sequences undoubtedly constitute the ultimate in "performance" 
of a certain kind of cinema, at the level of what one would call "the invisible 
subject," by which I mean the subject entirely dissolved in the fact to which it 
has given rise. Whereas when a film is tåken from a story, the latter continues 
to survive by itself like a skeleton without its muscles; one can always "tell" 
the story of the film. 

The function of the subject is here no less essential than the story but its 
essence is reabsorbed into the scenario. To put it another way, the subject 
exists before the working scenario, but it does not exist afterward. Only the 
"fact" exists which the subject had itself forecast. If I try to recount the film 
to someone who has not seen it — for example, what Umberto D. is doing in 
his room or the little servant Maria in the kitchen, what is there left for me to 
describe? An impalpable show of gestures without meaning, from which the 
person I am talking to cannot derive the slightest idea of the emotion that 
gripped the viewer. The subject here is sacrificed beforehand, like the wax in 
the casting of the bronze. 

At the scenario level this type of subject corresponds, reciprocally, to the 
scenario based entirely on the behavior of the actor. Since the real time of the 
narrative is not that of the drama but the concrete duration of the character, 
this objectiveness can only be transformed into a mise en scene (scenario and 
action) in terms of something totally subjective. I mean by this that the film is 
identical with what the actor is doing and with this alone. The outside world 
is reduced to being an accessory to this pure action, which is sufficient to 
itself in the same way that algae deprived of air produce the oxygen they need. 
The actor who gives a representation of a particular action, who "interprets a 
part" always, in a measure, directs himself because he is calling more or less 
on a system of generally accepted dramatic conventions which are learned in 
conservatories. Not even these conventions are any help to him here. He is 
entirely in the hands of the director in this complete replica of life. 

True, Umberto D. is not a perfect film like Ladri di biciclette, but this is 
perhaps understandable since its ambition was greater. Less perfect in its 
entirety but certainly more perfect and more unalloyed in some of its parts — 
those in which De Sica and Zavattini exhibit complete fidelity to the aesthetic 
of neorealism. That is why one must not accuse Umberto D. of facile senti- 
mentality, some measure of modest appeal to social pity. The good qualities 
and even, for that matter, the defects of the film are far beyond any categories 



"Umberto D.: A Great Work" 



113 




Umberto D., dir. Vittorio De Ska, 1952. 



of morality or politics. We are dealing here with a cinematographic "report," a 
disconcerting and irrefutable observation on the human condition. One may 
or may not find it to one's taste that this report should be made on the life of 
a minor functionary boarding with a family or on a little pregnant servant; 
but, certainly, what we have just learned about this old man and this girl as 
revealed through their accidental misfortunes above all concerns the human 
condition. I have no hesitation in stating that the cinema has rarely gone such 
a long way toward making us aware of what it is to be a man. (And also, for 
that matter, of what it is to be a dog.) 

Hitherto dramatic literature has provided us with a doubtless exact 
knowledge of the human soul, but one which stands in the same relation to 
man as classical physics to matter — what scientists call macrophysics, useful 
only for phenomena of considerable magnitude. And certainly the novel 
has gone to extremes in categorizing this knowledge. The emotional physics 
of a Proust is microscopic. But the matter with which this microphysics 
is concerned is on the inside. It is memory. The cinema is not necessarily 
a substitute for the novel in this search after man, but it has at least one 
advantage over it, namely, that it presents man only in the present: to the 
"time lost and found" of Proust there corresponds in a measure the "time 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



discovered" of Zavattini; this is, in the contemporary cinema, something like 
Proust in the present indicative tense. 

A conspiracy of silence, a sullen and obstinate reticence, is building up 
against Umberto D., however, and as a result even the good that has been 
written about it seems to condemn the film with faint praise — though it is 
a kind of mute ill humor or even contempt (to which no one is prepared to 
admit in view of the illustrious past of its makers) that in secret animates the 
hostility of more than one critic. There will certainly be no "Battle of Umberto 
D." And yet it is one of the most revolutionary and courageous films of the 
last two years — not only of the Italian cinema but of European cinema as a 
whole, a masterpiece to which film history is certainly going to grant a place of 
honor, even if for the moment an inexplicable failure of attention or a certain 
blindness on the part of those who love the cinema allows it only a reluctant 
and ineffective esteem. 

If there are lines outside theaters showing Christian-Jaques Adorables 
créatures (1952) or Henri Verneuils Lefruit défendu (1952), it is perhaps in 
part because the brothels have been closed; all the same, there should be a 
few thousand of people in Paris who expect other pleasures from film. For 
the Paris public to be properly shamed, must Umberto D. leave the marquees 
before it has had the kind of run it deserves? 




Umberto D., dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1952. 



"Umberto D.: A Great Work" 



115 



The chief reason for the misunderstandings that have arisen about Umberto 
D. lies in comparing it with Ladri di biciclette. Some will say with some 
semblance of reason that De Sica "returns to neorealism" here, after the 
poetico-realist interlude of Miracolo a Milano. {Miracolo a Milano [1951] 
itself created only audience discord. In the absence of the general enthusiasm 
that greeted Ladri di biciclette, the originality of the scenario, the mixture of 
the fantastic and the commonplace, and the penchant of our time for political 
cryptography stirred up around this strange film a sort of succes de scandale.) 
This is true, but only if one hastens to add that the perfection of Ladri di 
biciclette was only a beginning, though it was first regarded as a culmination. 
It took Umberto D. to make us understand what it was in the realism of Ladri 
di biciclette that was still a concession to classical dramaturgy. Consequently 
what is so unsettling about Umberto D. is primarily the way it rejects any 
relationship to traditional film spectacle. 

Of course, if we take just the theme of the film, we can reduce it to 
a seemingly "populist" melodrama with social pretensions, an appeal on 
behalf of the middle class: a retired minor omdal reduced to penury decides 
against suicide because he can neither find someone to take care of his 
dog nor pluck up enough courage to kill it before he kills himself. This 
final episode is not the moving conclusion to a dramatic series of events. 
If the classical concept of "construction" still has some meaning here, the 
sequence of events which De Sica reports obeys a necessity that has nothing 
to do with dramatic structure. What kind of causal relationship could you 
establish between a harmless angina for which Umberto D. will be treated 
in hospital, his landladys turning him out on the street, and his minking 
of suicide? The notice to vacate was served irrespective of the angina. A 
"dramatic author" would have made the angina acute in order to establish 
a logical and a pathetic relationship between the two things. Here, on the 
contrary, the period in hospital is in effect hardly justified by the real state 
of Umberto D.'s health; rather than making us pity him for his unhappy lot, 
it is really a rather cheerful episode. 

That is not where the question lies, though. It is not his real poverty that 
moves Umberto D. to despair, though it is in a very real sense a contributing 
factor, but only in the degree that it shows him just how lonely he is. The few 
things which Umberto D. must rely on others to do for him are all it takes to 
alienate his few human contacts. To the extent that it is indeed the middle 
class that is involved, the film reports the secret misery, the egoism, the lack 
of fellow-feeling which characterizes its members. Its protagonist advances 
step by step further into his solitude: the person closest to him, the only one 
to show him any tenderness, is his landladys little maid; but her kindness 



116 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



and her good will cannot prevail over her worries as an unwed mother-to-be. 
Through his one friendship, then, there runs the motif of despair. 

But here I am now lapsing back into traditional critical concepts, though I 
am talking about a film whose originality I set out to prove. If one assumes 
some distance from the story and can still see in it a dramatic patterning, some 
general development in character, a single general trend in its component 
events, this is only after the fact. The narrative unit is not the episode, the 
event, the sudden turn of events, or the character of its protagonists; it is the 
succession of concrete instants of life, no one of which can be said to be more 
important than another, for their ontological equality destroys drama at its 
very basis. One wonderful sequence to which I refer above — it will remain one 
of the high points of film — is a perfect illustration of this approach to narrative 
and thus to direction: the scene in which the maid gets up. 

The camera confines itself to watching her doing her little chores: moving 
around the kitchen still half asleep, drowning the ants that have invaded the 
sink, grinding the coffee. The cinema here is conceived as the exact opposite 
of that "art of ellipsis" to which we are much too ready to believe it devoted. 
Ellipsis is a narrative process; it is logical in nature and so it is abstract as well; 
it presupposes analysis and choice; it organizes the facts in accord with the 
general dramatic direction to which it forces them to submit. On the contrary, 
De Sica and Zavattini attempt to divide the event up into still smaller events 
and these into events smaller still, to the extreme limits of our capacity to 
perceive them in time. Thus, the unit event in a classical film would be "the 
maids getting out of bed"; two or three brief shots would suffice to show this. 
De Sica replaces this narrative unit with a series of "smaller" events: she wakes 
up; she crosses the hall; she drowns the ants; and so on. 

But let us examine just one of these. We see how the grinding of the coffee 
is divided in turn into a series of independent moments: for example, when 
she shuts the door with the tip of her outstretched foot. As it goes in on her 
the camera follows the movement of her leg so that the image finally concen- 
trates on her toes feeling the surface of the door. Have I already said that it 
is Zavattinis dream to make a whole film out of ninety minutes in the life of 
a man to whom nothing happens? That is precisely what "neorealism" means 
for him. Two or three sequences in Umberto D. give us more than a glimpse of 
what such a film might be like; they are fragments of it that have already been 
shot. But let us make no mistake about the meaning and the value realism 
has here. De Sica and Zavattini are concerned to make cinema the asymptote 
of reality — but in order that it should ultimately be life itself that becomes 
spectacle, in order that life might in this perfect mirror be visible poetry, be 
the seif into which film finally changes it. 



Chapter Thirteen 

In Italy 



"En Italie," chapter by André Bazin in André Bazin et alia, Cinema 53 å travers 
le monde (Éditions du Cerf, 1954), pp. 85-100. Translated into English by Bert 
Cardullo. 

The 1951-1952 season had ended on a triumphant note for Italian neorealism 
with the wonderful Two Cents' Worth of Hope (1951), by Renato Castellani. 
Another masterpiece opened the 1952-1953 season, Umberto D. (1952), by 
Cesare Zavattini and Vittorio De Sica. Unfortunately, the film was released 
under deplorable conditions at the end of September and was insufficiently 
supported by the critics, who were still napping after the holidays, so that it 
enjoyed absolutely no success. Violently attacked in Italy for para-political 
reasons, Umberto D. consequently not find the welcome in Paris that it 
deserved. For this, shame on the critics' children and grandchildren up to the 
seventh generation! 

In the Zavattini and De Sica oeuvre, Miracle in Milan (1951) was a paren- 
thetical work. It was an excursion into fantasy, related to realism and in 
its service perhaps, but generally following a different path from the one 
dermed by Shoeshine (1946) and Bicycle Thieves (1948). With Umberto D., this 
director and screenwriter return to pure neorealism, in which they attempt to 
eliminate all concessions to the traditional concept of cinematic dramaturgy. 

Now an eccentricity of Zavattinis is his claim that Italian cinema must, 
contrary to all evidence, "transcend" neorealism. This is a perilous and 
paradoxical position after the success of Bicycle Thieves, which represented 
the pinnacle from which any artist could only descend. But Umberto D. proves 
that the undeniable perfection of Bicycle Thieves does not delimit the neore- 
alist aesthetic; indeed, for this reason Umberto D. may even be superior to 
Bicycle Thieves. This latest film succeeds, rather than in the strict application 



117 



118 André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




Shoeshine, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1946. 



of the laws of neorealist form, in creating an almost miraculous equilibrium 
between neorealisms revolutionary conception of screenwriting and the 
exigencies of classical storytelling. Where one would never have believed 
that such a compromise could exist, these film artists have arrived at an ideal 
synthesis between the necessary rigor of tragedy and the spontaneous fluidity 
of daily reality. For Zavattini, however, this success did not come without 
sacrificing a part of his aesthetic theory, which we all know would create a 
cinematic "spectacle" of ninety minutes in the life of a man to whom nothing 
ever happens. An impossible task, perhaps, except in a theoretical film that 
would reflect reality like a two-way mirror, but such a deeply aesthetic notion 
is as inexhaustible as nature itself. 

From this point of view, Umberto D. tries to go, and succeeds in going, much 
further than Bicycle Thieves did; two or three of its scenes, in fact, more than 
suggest the complete neorealism that Zavattini visualizes. Disagreement will 
inevitably arise, because the films socio themes and its sentiment may make 
some people consider it a plea for old-age pensions, while others dismiss it 
as nothing but a populist melodrama. There will always be the carping critic 
who wants to mock De Sicas "faint heart," yet it is clear that the real film here 
is much more than the sum of its parts. 



"In Italy" 



119 



First lets look at the films "action." A retired bureaucrat, reduced to half- 
misery and demoralized by the threat of losing his room, decides against 
committing suicide because he cannot find a home for his dog or muster up 
the courage to kill the animal, either. But this final scene is not the pathetic 
conclusion (also, what conclusion are we talking about, since the old man 
has to live on?) of a dramatic chain of events. If the events happen to be 
dramatic, they are so in themselves and not with regard to a pre-established 
"action." Granted, the succession of these events, sometimes only moments, 
is not incoherent. One can see some progress in it, but this progress is 
accidental as it were: the opposite of necessary or inevitable and tragically 
transcendent. To wit: Umberto D. is suffering from angina, and his illness 
fills up a lot of time in the film; it will land him in the hospital, but his hospi- 
talization has almost no consequences for the action and, after his recovery, 
the protagonist finds himself in the same situation as before. The basic unit 
of the film is thus not a scene, an event, a coup de theatre; its mainspring is 
not even the protagonists character: the story is only a succession of concrete 
moments of life, none of which can be said to be more important than the 
others. 

Indeed, the story of Umberto D. — if one can still speak in this instance 
of a story or plot — is as much about the times when "nothing happens" 
as it is about dramatic events, such as the protagonists failed suicide. De 
Sica dedicates more than one reel to showing us Umberto D. in his room, 
closing his shutters, arranging various objects, looking at his tonsils, going 
to bed, taking his temperature. Too many pills for a sore throat, I have to 
say! Enough pills for suicide ... The sore throat plays its small role in the 
plot, but the most beautiful sequence in the film — and one of the highest 
achievements in the history of cinema — is the awakening of the pregnant little 
maid. Rigorously avoiding dramatic italicizing, the scene perfectly illustrates 
Zavattinis conception of narrative and hence of mise en scene. 

Early in the morning, the young girl gets up, comes and goes in the kitchen, 
drowns the ants that are swarming in the sink, grinds the coffee, closes the 
door with the tip of her toe . . . and all these "irrelevant" actions are reported 
to us with meticulous temporal continuity. This scene is without any dramatic 
"usefulness," as the camera limits itself to filming the young woman during 
her habitual morning activities. Cinema becomes here the very opposite of 
the art of ellipsis, which one can too easily think it was made for. Ellipsis 
implies analysis and choice; it organizes facts according to the dramatic sense 
they must be submitted to. De Sica and Zavattini try, by contrast, to divide 
the event up into smaller events, and those into even smaller events, up to the 
limit of our perception of duration. 



120 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



I mentioned to Zavattini that this last scene sustains our unflagging 
interest, whereas Umberto D. s bedroom scene does not succeed in the same 
way. "You see," he told me, "that the aesthetic principle is not in question, 
but only its application. The more screenwriters reject genres of action and 
spectacle and try to make a story conform to the continuity of everyday life, 
the more choosing from among the infinite events of someones life becomes 
a delicate, problematic issue. The fact that you were bored by Umberto 
D. s sore throat, yet moved to tears by my little heroines coffee grinder, 
only proves that I chose the second time what I, and perhaps you, had not 
conceived of before." 

This is an uneven film, certainly, and one that does not satisfy the soul as 
much as Bicycle Thieves, but Umberto D. is also a film whose weaknesses are 
due only to its ambitions. Nonetheless, we should no longer be mistaken about 
the concept of "realism" in film art: the purpose of De Sica and Zavattini is to 
make of cinema an asymptote of reality, in the process almost making of life 
itself a spectacle — life in it seif at last, even as the cinema alters it. This places 
a film like Umberto D. not only in the forefront of neorealism, but at the very 
edge of the invisible avant-garde, which I, in my own small way, hope to 
promote. 

The year began with a misunderstood masterpiece (De Sicas Umberto D.), 
and it ended with an accursed masterpiece, Roberto Rossellinis Europe '51 (aka 
The Greatest Love, 1952). Just as critics had reproached De Sica for making a 
social melodrama, they accused Rossellini of indulging in a confused, indeed 
reactionary, political ideology. They were once again wrong for the most part, 
for they were passing judgment on the subject without taking into consid- 
eration the style that gives it its meaning and its aesthetic value. 

A young, rich, and frivolous woman loses her only son, who commits 
suicide one evening when his mother is so preoccupied with her social life that 
she sends him to bed rather than be forced to pay attention to him. The poor 
womans moral shock is so violent that it plunges her into a crisis of conscience 
that she initially tries to resolve by dedicating herself to humanitarian causes, 
on the advice of a cousin of hers who is a Communist intellectual. But little 
by little she gets the feeling that this is only an intermediate stage beyond 
which she must go if she is to achieve a mystical clarity all her own, one that 
transcends the boundaries of politics and even of social or religious morality. 
Accordingly, she looks after a sick prostitute until the latter dies, then aids in 
the escape of a young criminal from the police. This last initiative causes a 
scandal, and, with the complicity of an entire family alarmed by her behavior, 
the womans husband, who understands her less and less, decides to have her 
committed to a sanitarium. If she had become a member of the Communist 



"In Italy" 



121 




Europe '51, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1952. 



party or had entered a convent, bourgeois society would have had fewer objec- 
tions to her actions, since the Europe of the early 1950s is a world of political 
parties and social organizations. 

From this perspective, it is true that Rossellinis script is not devoid 
of naiveté, even of incoherence or at any rate pretentiousness. One sees 
the particulars that the author has borrowed from Simone Weils life, 
without in fact being able to recapture the strength of her thinking. But 
these reservations dont hold up before the whole of a film that one must 
understand and judge on the basis of its mise en scene. What would 
Dostoyevskys The Idiot be worth if it were to be reduced to a summary 
of its plot? Because Rossellini is a true director, the form of his film does 
not consist in the ornamentation of its script: the form is supplied by its 
very substance. 

The author of Germany, Year Zero (1947) — in which a boy also kills 
himself— is profoundly haunted in a personal way by the horror of the 
death of children, even more by the horror of their suicide, and it is around 
his heroines authentic spiritual experience of such a suicide that the film 
is organized. The eminently modern theme of lay sainthood then naturally 



122 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



emerges; its more or less skillful development by the script matters very little: 
what matters is that each sequence is a kind of meditation or filmic song 
on this fundamental theme as revealed by the mise en scene. The aim is not 
to demonstrate but to show. And how could we resist the moving spiritual 
presence of Ingrid Bergman, and, beyond the actress, how could we remain 
insensitive to the intensity of a mise en scene in which the universe seems to 
be organized along spiritual lines of force, to the point that it sets them off as 
manifestly as iron fillings in a magnetic field? Seldom has the presence of the 
spiritual in human beings and in the world been expressed with such dazzling 
clarity. 

Granted, Rossellinis neorealism here seems very different from, if not the 
opposite of, De Sicas. However, I think it wise to reconcile them as the two 
poles of one and the same aesthetic school. Whereas De Sica investigates 
reality with ever more expansive curiosity, Rossellini by contrast seems to 
strip it down further each time, to stylize it with a painful but nonetheless 
unrelenting rigor, in short to return to a classicism of dramatic expression in 
acting as well as in mise en scene. But, on closer examination, this classicism 
stems from a common neorealistic revolution. For Rossellini, as for De Sica, 
the aim is to reject the categories of acting and of dramatic expression in order 
to force reality to reveal its significance solely through appearances. Rossellini 
does not make his actors act, he doesnt make them express this or that feeling; 
he compels them only to be a certain way before the camera. In such a mise 
en scene, the respective places of the characters, their ways of walking, their 
movements on the set, and their gestures have much more importance than 
the feelings they show on their faces, or even than the words they say Besides, 
what "feelings" could Ingrid Bergman "express"? Her drama lies far beyond 
any psychological nomenclature. Her face only outlines a certain property of 
suffering. 

Europe '51 gives ample indication that such a mise en scene calls for the 
most sophisticated stylization possible. A film like this is the very opposite 
of a realistic one "drawn from life": it is the equivalent of austere and terse 
writing, which is so stripped of ornament that it sometimes verges on the 
ascetic. At this point, neorealism returns full circle to classical abstraction and 
its generalizing quality. Hence this apparent paradox: the best version of the 
film is not the dubbed Italian version, but the English one, which employs the 
greatest possible number of original voices. At the far reaches of this realism, 
the accuracy of exterior social reality becomes unimportant. The children in 
the streets of Rome can speak English without our even realizing the implausi- 
bility of such an occurrence. This is reality through style, and thus a reworking 
of the conventions of art. 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Michelangelo Antonioni belongs to the same artistic family as Rossellini, 
albeit with perhaps a more conscious intelligence of cinematic means. 
Antonionis farne in France is not yet equal to his talent. His first film, a 
tense and cutting work, which recalls the rigor of Bresson and the sensitivity 
of Renoir, was Story of a Love Affair (1950). It revealed, in addition to its 
outstanding director, an astonishing actress: Lucia Bosé. Since then, Antonioni 
has made two very good films that have not been released in France: The Lady 
without Camelias (1953), a satire on beauty pageants, and above all I Vinti (The 
Vanquished; aka Youth and Perversion, 1952), whose release in France might 
be prevented for stupid reasons of censorship. 




The Lady without Camelias, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953. 



The Italian critics themselves are divided and hesitant about The Lady 
without Camelias, but I saw I Vinti at the Venice Film Festival, and the film 
completely fulfills the early hopes that I had about its director. Its purpose 
is to evoke the moral situation of postwar youth on the basis of three true 
stories, one Italian, one English, and one French — each of which chronicles a 
senseless murder. The French portion is the one causing all the films troubles, 
as it is (too closely) inspired by the actual murder on which it's based. The 
three parts of I Vinti are unequal, and the Italian one could have been made 
by any director with a little talent, but the French part is excellent and the 



"In Italy" 



125 



English wonderful. The latter reaches the extreme purity of a kind of stylized 
realism, stripped bare of any element borrowed from the charms of the edited 
or plastic image: this is a true chess game of reality where the actors' behavior, 
and the environment in which they are placed, are the only signs of a hidden 
truth. 




The Vanquished, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1952. 



Italian cinema, however, was not as high on the honor roll of international 
film festivals this season as in the previous one. I must nevertheless single 
out among the films that have not yet been released in Paris an appealing 
work by Mario Soldati titled The Provincial Woman (1953; aka The Wayward 
Wife), after a short story by Alberto Moravia. This endeavor is interesting, for 
the Italians consider Soldati one of their best novelists, and his work in the 
cinema, usually quite commercial, has had little to do so far with his work as 
a talented writer. A strange fellow who looks like Groucho Marx, he is indeed 
also the director of the comedy O.K. New (1951). With this picture, it is a little 
as if Francois Mauriac were making a living by making a movie in imitation of 
the French comic strip Les Pieds Nickelés. 

But in Italy writers and filmmakers dont live in separate worlds: I can see 
a brief but significant confirmation of this in the six-minute cinematic short 
titled It Is the Suns Fault (1951), written and directed by the novelist Alberto 
Moravia. It is a brief but grating love story set in high society. Now, in The 
Provincial Woman, the novelist Soldati directs a short story by the same 
Moravia, the author of Agostino (1944). Its title tells all. This is the story of 
an Italian Emma Bovary, who married a professor who is neither handsome 
nor rich, and who is blackmailed by a Romanian countess — who is more of 
a procuress than a countess. The provincial woman is the too-beautiful Gina 
Lollobrigida. In view of the potential of its authors, this interesting film, 
made with intelligence and a defmite sense of novelistic depth, is nonetheless 
somewhat disappointing and does not come up to the level, say, of Rossellinis 
moral rigor or Antonionis visual style. 




The Wayward Wife, dir. Mario Soldati, 1953. 



"In Italy" 



127 



At the same Cannes Film Festival where The Provincial Woman was 
screened, Vittorio De Sica was showing his latest film: Stazione Termini 
(Terminal Station; aka Indiscretion of an American Wife, 1953). He himself 
had the cunning and taste to sing the praises of Clouzots The Wages ofFear 
(1953) at the Festivals preliminary press conference, in a discreet way of 
alleviating the jurys subsequent guilt for not singling out Stazione Termini for 
the Cannes honor roll. And all in all, the exclusion of Stazione Termini by the 
Cannes judges was as justified as the absence of Umberto D. from the honor 
roll of 1952 was a scandal. 

The weaknesses of the film were unfortunately contained in the premises of 
its making. Stazione Termini is the result of an American mortgage contracted 
by De Sica after his trip to the United States, where he was supposed to make a 
film. This trip was twice unlucky as, on the one hand, the project never materi- 
alized and, on the other hand, it was nearly the cause of a falling out between 
the director and his screenwriter Zavattini, who was not able to go because 
the American embassy rejected his visa application. To the great satisfaction 
of all those who admire Italian cinema and who love these two wonderfully 
complementary personalities, the quarrel, which lasted for two years, finally 




Indiscretion of an American Wife, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1953. 



128 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



seems to have given way to a new, trustful collaboration since a certain letter 
from De Sica to Zavattini, which the latter published in Cinema Nuovo and 
which was later reprinted in Cahiers du cinéma. Both are now working on 
their next film: Gold ofNaples (1954). 

Whatever Zavattinis personal feelings might have been during that period, 
he nevertheless worked on the screenplay of Stazione Termini. But the condi- 
tions of the films production inevitably steered it toward a compromise 
between the demands of neorealism and the American conception of romance. 
Selznick, the producer, probably wanted an "Italian film" in which one could 
find the external signs of neorealism, but a film also adapted to the tastes of 
an American audience — and to the greater glory of Mrs. Selznick, aka Jennifer 
Jones. Zavattini had initially written a fundamentally Italian story in which the 
ultimate parting of the two lovers was the result of a social imperative — the 
ban on divorce in Italy. Granted, this ban would have had little significance for 
the Americans, since divorce is legal in the United States. But from Zavattinis 
dialogue, as well, very little was left after its rewriting by Truman Capote. 
Therefore, the film is what it had to be: divided between two opposite inclina- 
tions, that of neorealism, with a mise en scene detailing life in a big Roman 
train station at 7 P.M., and that of sentiment, with any social element reduced 
to the role of setting — active, to be sure, but ultimately subordinated to a 
sentimental story and to our interest in the two stars of the film, Montgomery 
Clift and Jennifer Jones. 

That said, it would be profoundly unfair to treat Stazione Termini as just a 
mediocre or failed film. First, within the warped framework imposed by the 
producer, De Sica has nevertheless been able to suggest psychological and 
social truths that are movingly accurate and clinically sharp. I particularly like 
the young American nephew of the female protagonist, who is so precisely yet 
discreetly typified with his proud, juvenile incomprehension. One can sense 
in this fourteen-year-old boy — whom a dozen carabinieri trail behind like live 
toy soldiers in a kids world — the frankness and severity of a simultaneously 
liberal and puritanical civilization: the great American one. The role of this 
secondary character, who embodies both the moral and social conscience 
of the heroine, is a beautiful and intelligent creation. But beyond these 
partial successes, which would fully satisfy many another filmmaker, Stazione 
Termini evidences from beginning to end an ease and class of mise en scene, 
and an elegant sensitivity, that are the true marks of a great director. 

With the De Sica-Zavattini collaboration, on the one hand, and on the other, 
the Rossellini and Antonioni films, I have delineated the aesthetic domain of 
neorealism, whose inclinations can be both extremely rigorous and extremely 
contradictory. Between these two poles, the year has offered us some other 



"In Italy" 



129 




Indiscretion of an American Wife, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1953. 



films that are not without their own concessions and are a mixture of various 
influences. But although they are less purely representative of the neorealist 
school, they nevertheless possess value. 

By order of merit, I should perhaps mention first The Road to Hope 
(1950), by Pietro Germi, a young filmmaker who is one of the great 
hopes of the new Italian cinema. In this film a group of miners and their 
families secretly leave their village in Sicily — whose sulfur mines have just 
closed down, depriving all the workers of their jobs — for a promised land 
where, they are told, there is work for everybody: France. They seil what 
little furniture they have, collect their raggedy clothes, pay the would-be 
smuggler who has offered to take them to the border and sneak them 
across, and then they leave: a miserable army rich only in hope. Abandoned 
halfway by their so-called guide and questioned by the Italian police, who 
order them to go back to Sicily (compulsory residence in one place is 
common in Italy), most of them decide to continue on with their journey 
anyway. Those who did not give up arrive at the border, where professional 
smugglers, who are used to this kind of emigration, make them cross at 
night during a snowstorm. At dawn, the Promised Land is before them. The 
survivors may finally be able to find work as unskilled laborers, or even, 
with a little luck, as miners. 



130 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



The screenplay of The Road to Hope, which is wonderful in its general 
outline, is unfortunately weakened by some melodramatic contrivances and 
political compromises. One of the two love stories is akin less to neorealism 
than to cheap soap-opera romance, despite the appealing characters played by 
Raf Vallone and Elena Varzi. Moreover, the last ten minutes of the film recall 
much too visibly Lindtbergs The Last Chance (1945) without duplicating its 
eloquence. The Road to Hope is also marred by inexplicable flaws that are 
difficult to explain precisely: does the problem lie in the screenplay, or in the 
very print I saw of the film, which seems to be in a rather sorry state? These 
awkwardnesses remain secondary, however, and do not really compromise the 
narrative line of this simple odyssey of misery, whose extremity truly verges 
on the absurd. 




In the Name of the Law, dir. Pietro Germi, 1949. 



Still, I would mostly reproach Pietro Germi — whose In the Name of the Law 
(1949) was seen in France — for his inclination toward aestheticism and even a 
certain taste for visual rhetoric, which sometimes takes the place in The Road 
to Hope of a profound and heartfelt commitment to the subject matter. His 
latest film, The Bandit ofTacca del Lupo (1952), presented in Venice, unfor- 
tunately confirms these fears, which continue to prevent me from ranking 
Germi among the foremost Italian movie directors. 



"In Italy" 



131 




The Bandit ofTacca del Lupo, dir. Pietro Germi, 1952. 



By contrast, it is its conscious epic ambition that gives Giuseppe De 
Santiss No Peace among the Olives (1950) its originality and power, despite 
the films baroque excesses. With Tragic Hunt (1947) and Bitter Rice (1949), 
De Santis had completed the first two works in an epic anthology on the 
subject of Earth Woman. Less pure and with less formal creativeness than 
Tragic Hunt, less successful in its parallel treatment of the erotic and peasant 
themes, No Peace among the Olives is nevertheless an appealing film, a 
strange one even in the excess or imbalance of some of its ambitions. The 
romanticism of De Santis, his unbridled lyricism, often upsets the very 
elementary plausibility of the screenplay to exult in some kind of delirious 
baroqueness. 

This is the story of a shepherd who, absent during the war, is robbed by a 
rich landowner and who, upon his return, takes back the sheep that belong to 
him. But nobody will dare testify in his favor, because the mighty landowner 
holds in his power all the shepherds of the region. Even Lucia, in love with 
the shepherd, will finally forsake him; even as he is sent to jail, she agrees 
to get engaged to the villain, who is her parents' creditor. But the shepherd 
escapes from prison and comes back to get his revenge. Hiding in a wild and 
mountainous terrain, he is this time protected by his friends and helped by 
Lucia. The film climaxes, on the one hand, with a lascivious dance by Lucia 




Tragic Hunt, dir. Giuseppe De Santis, 1947. 



"In Italy" 



133 




Bitter Rice, dir. Giuseppe De Santis, 1949. 




No Peace among the Olives, dir. Giuseppe De Santis, 1950. 



134 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Bosé, which recalls that of Silvana Mangano in Bitter Rice (not to speak of 
Eleonora Rossi Drago in Clemente Fracassis Sensualitå [1952], which, like 
Bitter Rice, explores the same vein of — let us call it — agricultural eroticism); 
and, on the other hand, with the revolt of the shepherds, whose gathered 
herds stream down the mountains into the legs of the carabinieri. The villain 
deservedly ends up at the bottom of a ravine. 

If we limit No Peace among the Olives to its plot, this film is merely a kind 
of peasant melodrama writ large, where nothing is spared: neither the rape of 
the poor young shepherdess by the rich landowner, nor the final triumph of a 
latent natural justice that is one step ahead of social justice. But it is obvious 
that the primal simplicity of this story is intentional on the part of its author, 
who has conceived his film both as a fresco and as an epic. Documentary 
realism is thus combined with narrative as well as visual stylization. The care 
given to the otherwise realistic photography proves my point, for each image 
is composed as a tableau: women strike poses of Pietås or of Madonnas; the 
actors look as though they had just stepped out of a Michelangelo fresco; and 
the walk-ons themselves play the role of the ancient chorus. To be sure, one 
must acknowledge that the result is somewhat grotesque. One is hard put to 
discover any synthesis between the formal ambitions of the mise en scene and 
the childishness of the screenplay. 




No Peace among the Olives, dir. Giuseppe De Santis, 1950. 



"In Italy" 



135 



As for the presence of Lucia Bosé, it has mostly to do with an erotic 
obsession that is purely its own justification. But in a hundred places of this 
baroque endeavor, a cinematic genius that cannot leave us indifferent reveals 
itself. The film was released in Paris, by the way — in a small theater on the 
outskirts of the city — three years after its making (and after it was released in 
the French provinces) only in a dubbed version. It goes without saying that 
this stupid exploitation has added quite a few misunderstandings to all those 
that the film already contained. 

As though he had achieved with No Peace among the Olives the epitome 
of his baroque delirium and had therefore freed himself from it, De Santis 
evidences in Rome, Eleven 0'Clock (1952) a remarkable sense of dramatic 
construction as it relates to the mise en scene. The film was inspired by a true 
story, which unfortunately loses force on account of the triviality of its theme. 
The staircase of a building has collapsed under the weight of two hundred 
unlucky young women who have come to apply for a typists job. One is dead 
and many others are severely injured. The film begins at dawn as the line of 
applicants is already forming. Almost imperceptibly, De Santis isolates eight 
or nine of the candidates, whose past and reasons for being there we progres- 
sively learn. We will witness a few hours from their individual destinies, which 
are more or less changed forever by the horrible accident. 




Rome, Eleven 0'Clock, dir. Giuseppe De Santis, 1952. 



136 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



In Rome, Eleven 0'Clock De Santis and his screenwriters have skillfully 
been able to avoid the artifice of films consisting of such sketches and to 
interweave the various, exemplary destinies they have chosen without inter- 
rupting the flow of the narrative. But the director plays the game of neorealism 
only partially here. Whereas his screenplay delves into the social present 
for its essential component, the violence of the stairway collapse, he never- 
theless does not deprive the film of a skilled yet finally traditional dramatic 
construction. Neither does he want to deprive this endeavor of the advantages 
of a spectacular east: Lucia Bosé, Carla del Poggio, Elena Varzi, Léa Padovani, 
Raf Vallone, and Massimo Girotti are the impressive stars. 

Almost at the same time, Augusto Genina was making another film about 
the same true story: Three Forbidden Tales (1952). I shall mention it here only 
for the sake of thoroughness and because a comparison with the film by De 
Santis makes the concessions of Rome, Eleven 0'Clock appear like so many 
ascetic choices. A wily old filmmaker, Genina is capable of the best (Heaven 
over the Marshes [1949]) as well as the less than good. Three Forbidden Tales 
does not even try to hide the fact that it consists only of sketches: three of 
them, in fact, one being indecent, one provocative, and one melodramatic. 
The film is so skillfully made that it verges on craftiness, but in the end its 
narrative strands are too arbitrarily connected to the real tragedy that is the 
works pretext. 

With Altri Tempi (Times Gone By, 1952), Alessandro Blasetti has assuredly 
tåken even less trouble than Genina to link up his seven sketches. But at 
least he is honest about it. The sole common denominator of his film is its 
evocation of the end of the nineteenth century. The tone varies, as do the 
length and subject matter of the tales that Blasetti tells us with relentless vigor. 
Still, he is able to balance tragedy, realism, morality, sentiment, and irony, not 
to speak of music and song. Moreover, he has a welcome preference for the 
comic touch, as displayed in the best of the stories, "The Judgment of Phryne." 
A mediocre lawyer, who caht find clients, is appointed to do pro bono work on 
a hopeless case — that of a young woman who killed her mother-in-law with 
rat poison. He finds brilliant inspiration in the rather low neckline of his client 
(Gina Lollobrigida): he will have her plead guilty in the name of beauty, and in 
this small dusty court he will get the same indulgence from the jury for her as 
the ancient Greek courtesan Phryne got from her jurors. Blasettis intelligence, 
which found in Vittorio De Sicas acting talent (as the attorney) a charming 
complicity, was that he chose to keep his lawyer a professional mediocrity, 
even in his final triumph. This is what gives the lawyers chance inspiration all 
its savor. One is reminded here of the work of both Georges Courteline and 
Marcel Pagnol. Or perhaps simply of the great tradition of Neapolitan farce, 



"In Italy" 




Times Gotte By, dir. Alessandro Blasetti, 1952. 



138 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



for which De Sica will no doubt fincl renewed inspiration in his forthcoming 
film, Gold ofNaples. 

Since I am dealing now with comic neorealism, I should not forget Cops 
and Robbers (1951), which garnered its authors (Steno [Stefano Vanzino] 
and Mario Monicelli) the prize for best screenplay at the 1952 Cannes Film 
Festival. In truth, I find this award a little excessive (especially when one 
considers that Umberto D. did not even make it to the honor roll). But the film 
did have humor and verve. It provided its two stars, Toto and Aldo Fabrizi, 
who are the Italian Fernandel and Raimu, with something better than an 
excuse for silly antics: a substantial plot, one that even went quite far in the 
direction of satirical realism. A police officer (Fabrizi), who is also a father 
with a family, arrests the Toto character, who is a thief and even more so a 
father with a family. The prisoner escapes and the policeman is forced to run 
after him. He catches him but in the process makes the acquaintance of Totos 
family. Understanding being the first step toward love, our policeman takes 
a liking to the prisoner, who will then himself have to drag this law enforcer 
back to prison. Toto will even decide not to run away anymore, so as not 
to cause the policeman any further trouble. This is the recognizable theme 
of an excellent social farce, which the screenwriters managed to stuff with 
thousands of little realistic details that are all absolutely credible. 




Sunday in August, dir. Luciano Emmer, 1950. 



"In Italy" 



139 



I did not want to end this chronicle of the neorealist year-in-film on a 
negative note. But how can I keep silent about a film by Luciano Emmer, whose 
art documentaries had put him, at the age of twenty, in the foreground of the 
worlds top documentary makers? His first feature film, Sunday in August 
(1950), confrrmed the promise that his documentary shorts had shown, even 
though this picture, in my opinion, had something a little too intellectual, 
too ingeniously aesthetic, about it to leave me satisfied. It would be better for 
Luciano Emmer s reputation if he were to forget as soon as possible his second 
feature film, which is the disastrous result of an impossible co-production. 
On the theme of the "Italians in Paris," Emmer tries in vain to depict for the 
benefit of these two nations the material and psychological aspects of super- 
ficial tourism. But how could he possibly have survived the handicap of a 
ridiculous and monstrous dubbing, which makes the French speak Italian in 
the Italian version and the Italians speak French (with a Marseilles accent!) in 
the French version? The failure of Emmers Paris Is Always Paris ( 1 95 1 ) on the 
French market will, I hope, serve as a lesson for producers who would still be 
attracted by such two-headed monsters. 

Of course, the idea of such a book [in which this chronicle first appeared] 
implies a bit of mental gymnastics, as the coincidences or absurdities of 
distribution prevent the film season in France from coinciding with the film 




Sunday in August, dir. Luciano Emmer, 1950. 



140 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 




The White Sheik, dir. Federico Fellini, 1952. 




The White Sheik, dir. Federico Fellini, 1952. 



"In Italy" 



141 



season throughout the rest of the world. Therefore, I deem it necessary, after 
this review of the main films released during the 1952-1953 season (festival 
premieres included), to remind the reader briefly of the oversights and 
anomalies of an exploitation that sometimes recalls the state of King Ubus 
Poland. At least two films should have been released a long time ago with all 
the acclaim that their merits deserve. First, a film by Alberto Lattuada: The 
Overmåt (1952). Adapted from the famous short story by Gogol, this film is 
probably Lattuadas best and should have won the prize for best screenplay at 
the 1952 Cannes Film Festival. 

Second, if the French distributors knew their job well, they also would not 
have failed to release a delightful little comic film — The White Sheik — by the 
screenwriter Federico Fellini, presented at the 1952 Venice Film Festival, 
and which I personally find superior to I vitelloni (1953) by the same author. 
The White Sheik has been praised to the hilt by the Italians this year. It is 
a charming and sensitive satire on the success of comic strips in popular 
newspapers. The hero of one of them, the "White Sheik," seduces a young 
provincial woman who is on her honeymoon in the big city; she then leaves 
her husband to go in search of her mythic lover. The delightful and intelligent 
Brunella Bovo (who played the little maid in Miracle in Milan) is the naive 
protagonist of this wonderful little adventure. 

It is equally the case that the same distributors who release first-rate works 
years after their making flood the French market with third-rate Italian 
movies, which we could very well do without. Take for instance The Grandson 
of the Three Musketeers, the many miserable imitations of Cabiria (1914), the 
low-budget versions of Quo Vadis? (1901, 1913), or even the many ridiculous 
melodramas that have more in common with cheap romanticism than with 
neorealism. Any defense of French national cinema has always argued against 
the American B-movies that invade our screens at the expense of native films 
or good foreign pictures. I would not hesitate to write that today we are also 
facing an Italian peril. It is perhaps less wide-ranging and less powerful from 
an economic point of view, but it is far more depressing from an aesthetic 
perspective. For whereas American B-movies very often retain some technical 
virtues and a certain dramatic poetry that is characteristic of the Hollywood 
system, bad Italian movies, by contrast, are like bad French movies, if not 
worse: they are moronic and shoddy; nothing saves them. If the Italian cinema 
has occupied since the war a top ranking in world cinema, it owes that ranking 
exclusively to its genuine works of art and not at all to its current commercial 
production, which is far worse than mediocre. But I trust that intelligent 
advertising and smart exporting on the part of Italian film distributors will 
remedy this situation. 



Chapter Fourteen 



"Is the Italian Cinema 
Groing* to Disown Itself? 



"Le cinéma italien va-t-il se renier?" Radio-Cinéma-Télévision (December 1954), 
in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 100-103. Translated 
into English by Bert Cardullo. 

If I had had to define Italian neorealism three or four years ago, I think I would 
not have failed to hold as essential several of its characteristics, among them 
the contemporary relevance of its themes and the realism of its language. 
These two fundamental characteristics were indeed essential elements in the 
first masterpiece of the new Italian school, Roberto Rossellinis Paiså (1946). 

PRESENTTENSE FILMS IN WHICH THE CHARACTERS 
SPEAK THEIR OWN LANGUAGE 

If one does indeed consider neorealism, according to Zavattinis definition, as 
a conversion of life into cinema — a way that the filmmaker has, no longer to 
imagine stories in the margins of everyday reality, but rather to throw light 
on that reality, to illuminate it from within in order to make of it an object 
to witness and to love — cinema, just like life, could exist only in the present 
tense of the indicative. Italian films (neorealist ones at least) thus never use the 
flashbacks that flourish in American, English, and French movies. 

But, less theoretically perhaps, one of the revolutions in taste imposed 
by neorealism on the international filmgoing audience has to do with the 
convention of languages. It has become intolerable in a film to hear foreigners 
speak to each other in the language of the viewer, against all plausibility. (I 
am excluding dubbing here, which is a convention that precedes a film and 



142 



"Is the Italian Cinema Going to Disown Itself?" 



143 



is external to it.) One can sometimes see on television how retrospectively 
ridiculous this is when one watches French films from the mid-1930s, in 
which Germans speak to their countrymen in the language of La Fontaine 
with a Teutonic accent. Jean Renoir is to be credited, yet again, with the oblit- 
eration of this convention in La grande illusion (1937). This film prefigured, as 
in other respects, the postwar cinema, notably Paiså and Leopold Lindtbergs 
The Last Chance (1945). I think that André Cayatte, for his part, was wrong in 
his Lovers of Verona (1948) when he returned to the convention of universal 
French in the realistic setting of Venice. 




Romeo and Juliet, dir. Renato Castellani, 1954. 

HISTORICAL NEOREALIST FILMS? 

And yet, Renato Castellani claims today that his Italian actors must speak 
English, and in verse, in the equally realistic setting of Verona. He also 
wants to have neorealistic blood flow in the veins of theatrical conventions. 
If his Romeo and Juliet (1954) calls for some critical reservations, it is not in 
this particular respect, however. Castellani has perfectly succeeded in the 
paradoxical alliance of neorealism and theater, and this perhaps calls for 
further reflection. All the more so since that reflection will complement the 



144 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



one inspired by any viewing of some of the latest Italian productions. One of 
the most remarkable films at the last Cannes Film Festival, for example — Carlo 
Lizzanis Chronicle ofPoor Lovers (1954), after Vasco Pratolinis novel — told 
about the life of some people living on a small street in Florence in 1924. At 
the last neorealist conference in Parma a year ago, some participants insisted 
on the necessity of making such "historical neorealist films." Is neorealism 
therefore going to decline or disown itself ? 




Chronicle ofPoor Lovers, dir. Carlo Lizzani, 1954. 



"Is the Italian Cinema Going to Disown Itself?" 145 




Chronicle ofPoor Lovers, dir. Carlo Lizzani, 1954. 




Chronicle ofPoor Lovers, dir. Carlo Lizzani, 1954. 



146 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



ITALIANS WHO SPEAK ENGLISH 

Lizzanis film already proves that this is not the case, and it is perhaps useful 
to remember that 1860 (1934), the film made by Alessandro Blasetti twelve 
years before Paiså, is often mentioned as the precursor of postwar Italian 
cinema. Confining neorealism to present-day events would indeed amount to 
limiting its development and future. Beyond the present-day relevance of its 
subject matter, neorealism is a way of seeing or presenting people and events 
with a maximum of "presence" or faithfulness and of life. It is filmmaking in 
the present tense of the indicative mood, but it does not exclude the historical 
present. 

More: it is possible that this temporal liberty coincides with more paradoxical 
liberties and that the geographical realism of language itself is not always 
essential. This personally struck me when I saw Rossellinis Europe '51 (1952), 
whose best version was unquestionably the English one (just as the best 
version of De Sicas Stazione Termini [1953] was the American one), despite 
the enormous implausibilities it entailed. Ultimately it was more important 
that Ingrid Bergman speak with her own voice, in English, in this picture than 
to hear Castellanis street kids speak in the (dubbed) language of Shakespeare. 
Among the conflicts between two realisms, that is, the purely linguistic 
one regarding the heroines dialogue and the social one of the secondary 
characters, the former prevailed. 

THE MATURITY OF A STYLE: GIVING NEW MEANING 
TO CONVENTIONS 

Must we conclude, nevertheless, that the whole neorealist endeavor is impure 
and see in it the evidence of its own weakness? Quite the contrary: for my 
part, I see in this development evidence for the maturity of neorealism, which 
is from now on capable of reinstituting the conventions necessary to style, not 
in but through reality. Europe '51, for instance, is a "modern tragedy." Tragedy 
implies the tragic style, which is a purification of events and passions, a kind 
of abstraction through intensity and nobility. Rossellini achieved this in 
Europe '51 in his mise en scene and in his directing of the actors; but he also 
created a modern feeling in the film, beyond the present-day relevance of its 
subject matter, through a neorealist treatment. This neorealism has become, 
in a way, internal to the characters and their relationships — something like a 
neorealism of souls. (Robert Bressohs Diary of a Country Priest [1951] is not 
so far away from the same concern.) 
In such a context, some primitive characteristics of the Italian school 



"Is the Italian Cinema Going to Disown Itself?" 



147 



become, if not obsolete, at least insignificant. Paradoxically, neorealism, 
ceasing to be an external respect for the real, can be dermed at its highest level 
only as a style. Its starting point was a hatred for conventions, yet it may return 
to them legitimately after their initial and necessary proscription. Shall I say, 
then, in a paraphrase of Pascal, that true neorealism is poking fun at realism? 



Chapter Fifteen 

La Strada 



"La strada" Esprit, 23.226 (May 1955), pp. 847-851, in Quest-ce que le cinéma?Vo\. 
4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 122-128; translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

The vitality of the Italian cinema is confirmed for us once again by this 
wonderful film of Federico Fellinis. And it is doubly comforting to declare 
that the rest of the critics have been nearly unanimous in singing the praises of 
La strada (1954). Perhaps without this support, which hasnt hesitated to enlist 
snobbism on its side, the film would have had some difficulty in bringing itself 
to the attention of an inundated and undiscerning public. 

Fellini has made one of those very rare films about which it can be said, 
one forgets that they are movies and accepts them simply as works of art. 
One remembers the discovery of La strada as an aesthetic experience of 
great emotion, as an unanticipated encounter with the world of imagination. 
I mean that this is less a case of a films having known how to attain a 
certain intellectual or moral level than of its having made a personal 
statement for which the cinema is most surely the necessary and natural 
form, but which statement nevertheless possesses a virtual artistic existence 
of its own. It is not a film that is called La strada; it is La strada that is 
called a film. 

In connection with this idea, Chaplins last film also comes to mind, 
although in many ways it is quite different from La strada. One could just 
as well say of Limelight (1952) that its only adequate embodiment was the 
cinema, that it was inconceivable through any other means of expression, and 
that, nonetheless, everything in it transcended the elements of a particular art 
form. Thus La strada confirms in its own way the following critical premise: 
to wit, that the cinema has arrived at a stage in its evolution where the form 
itself no longer determines anything, where filmic language no longer calls 



148 



"La Strada" 



149 




La Strada, dir. Federico Fellini, 1954. 



attention to itself, but on the contrary suggests only as much as any stylistic 
device that an artist might employ. 

Doubtless it will be said that only the cinema could, for example, endow 
Zampanos extraordinary motorcycle caravan with the significance of living 
myth that this simultaneously strange and commonplace object attains here. 
But one can just as clearly see that the film is in this case neither transforming 
nor interpreting anything for us. No lyricism of the image or of montage 
takes it upon itself to guide our perceptions; I will even say that the mise en 
scene does not attempt to do so — at least not the mise en scene from a techni- 
cally cinematic point of view. The screen restricts itself to showing us the 
caravan better and more objectively than could the painter or the novelist. I 
am not saying that the camera has photographed the caravan in a very plain 
manner — even the word "photographed" is too much here — but rather that 
the camera has simply shown the caravan to us, or even better, has enabled 
us to see it. 

Surely it would be excessive to pretend that nothing can be created by virtue 
of cinematic language alone, of its abrasive intrusion on the real. Without 
even taking into account almost virgin territory such as color and the wide 
screen, one can say that the degree of relationship between technique and 
subject matter depends in part on the personality of the director. An Orson 
Welles, for instance, always creates by means of technique. But what one 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



can say without question is that henceforth advances in the cinema will not 
necessarily be tied to the originality of the means of expression, to the formal 
composition of the image or of the images in relation to one another. More 
precisely, if there is a formal originality to La strada, it consists in the films 
always staying just this side of the cinema. 

That is to say, nothing that Fellini shows us owes any supplementary 
meaning to the manner in which it is shown; nevertheless, what we see 
couldnt be seen anywhere but on the screen. It is in this way that the cinema 
achieves fruition as the art of the real. One knows, of course, that Fellini is 
a great director, but he is a great director who doesnt cheat on reality. If the 
camera doesnt see it, it isnt in his film. It wouldnt be in his film, in any case, 
if he hadnt first acknowledged the fullness of its being in the world. 

In this sense La strada doesnt depart at all from Italian neorealism. 
But there is a misunderstanding on this subject that requires clarification. 
La strada has been received in Italy with some reservation by the critical 
guardians of neorealist orthodoxy. These critics are situated on the Left, which 
in France is called "Progressivist," although this term is misleading, since the 
Italian critics are both more Marxist and more independent than the French 
Progressivists. There are certainly Communist critics in France as well, and 
some of them are cultivated, intelligent, and well-informed, but their point of 
reference seems to me to be only marginally that of Marxism. The tactics and 
the watchwords of the Party do play a clearer role in their writing, however, 
when the work of art in question draws its substance from the political arena, 
for then Party ideology takes over in spite of everything in the work that 
resists it. The criticism consequently does no more than render a good or bad 
judgment on the work according to whether its authors political views are 
"correct" or "incorrect." As for Progressivist criticism, it is either equivalent to 
the worst Communist criticism in slavishness and intellectual emptiness, or 
else it isnt Marxist and in that case has some scope. 

In Italy, by contrast, it is Marxist criticism that occasionally gives evidence 
of a certain independence with regard to the interests of the Party, and 
without sacrificing the stringency of its aesthetic judgments. I am naturally 
thinking of the group around Luigi Chiarini and Guido Aristarco at Cinema 
Nuovo. In the last two years their criticism has, I dare say, rediscovered the 
concept of neorealism, which was held in so little regard at one time, and is 
attempting to denne the term and give it an orientation. (Cesare Zavattini is 
the figure whose work most conforms to neorealisms ideal, which conceives 
of a film, not as a fixed and tame reality, but as a work in progress, an 
inquiry that begins with certain givens and then proceeds in a particular 
direction.) 



"La Strada" 



151 



I dont feel that I have the competence necessary to give a clear description 
of the evolution of neorealism as seen by these Marxist critics, but I also dont 
believe that I am distorting matters to call neorealism, as they define it, a 
substitute term for "socialist realism," the theoretical and practical sterility of 
which, fortunately, no longer needs to be demonstrated. In fact, as far as one 
can trace it through the various tactical changes in the Party line on art that 
have occurred, socialist realism has never created anything very convincing in 
itself. In painting, where its influence is easy to determine because it stands in 
opposition to the whole course of modern art, we know that it hasnt produced 
any results. In literature and in cinema, the situation is confused, since we are 
dealing here with art forms from which realism has never been eliminated. 
But even if there are good films and good novels that dont contradict the 
precepts of socialist realism, it is still rather doubtful that these precepts had 
anything to do with the success of these works of art. On the other hand, one 
can well see the extent to which such precepts have eviscerated many other 
works. 

The truth is that theories have never produced masterpieces and that 
creative outpourings have a deeper source in History and in men. Italy 
had the good fortune, like Russia around 1925, to lind itself in a situation 
where cinematic genius began to flourish, and this genius was moving in the 
direction of social progress, of human liberation. It is natural and legitimate 
that the most conscientious among the creators and judges of this important 
movement are anxious today to keep it from falling apart; they would like 
neorealism to continue along the revolutionary path it set out on around 1945. 
And surely neorealism can, at least in the cinema, be a valuable substitute for 
socialist realism. The number of successful neorealist films and their oneness 
in diversity supply the Marxist aesthetician with food for productive thought, 
which is the way it should be. If the time comes, however, when such thought 
outstrips production itself, then neorealism will be in danger. Happily, we 
are not yet at that point. Nevertheless, I am worried about the intolerance 
that Marxist criticism is beginning to show toward those who dissent from, 
let us call it, socialist neorealism — namely, Rossellini and Fellini (who was 
Rossellinis assistant and in many ways remains his disciple). 

"Italy is ever and adamantly the country of Catholicism: whoever is not on 
the side of Peppone must be in league with Don Camillo." [Don Camillo, an 
eccentric Roman Catholic village priest, and Peppone, the villages militant 
Communist mayor, conduct a running war to gain the favor of the local 
populace in a series of novels (later filmed) by Giovannino Guareschi (1908- 
1968).] In response to this criticism from the Left, Italian Catholics run to 
the defense of those neorealist films whose ambiguity lends itself to Catholic 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



coloration. The Congress of Varese, it could be said, is doing battle here with 
the Congress of Parma. [These were various congresses held in the 1890s by 
the Catholics, on the one hand, and the Italian Socialist Party, on the other.] 
Needless to say, the results of this Catholic effort have been rather pitiful. 

Because of it, however, Rossellini and Fellini find themselves in a very 
difficult situation. It is true that their recent films could not be perceived 
as socially oriented. These films are not concerned at all with the transfor- 
mation of social institutions; they arent even genuine social documents. Their 
makers, as Italian Citizens, dont flirt with Communism, but neither do they let 
themselves be tåken in by the Christian Democrats. The result for Rossellini 
is that he is denounced by both sides. As for Fellini, his case is still under 
litigation, although the success of La strada gives him the benefit of a favorable 
reception from both sides at the same time — a reception marred, though, by 
uneasiness and pronounced reservations on the part of the Marxists. 

Of course, political bias is just one part of a critics make-up, with greater or 
lesser weight attached to it depending on his personality. It may even occur 
that a critic will set aside his political bias: we have seen Chiarini, for example, 
defend Rossellinis Flowers of St. Francis (1950), whereas Cinema Nuovo was 
divided over Senso (1954), which was directed by the Communist Visconti. 
But the precedent set by such instances certainly does not contribute to a 
softening of theoretical positions when these are synonymous with political 
distrust. Thus both the Marxists and the Christian Democrats threaten to 
evict Fellini from the neorealist pantheon as each dennes it, and to huri him 
out into the darkness already inhabited by Rossellini. 

Obviously everything depends on the definition we give to neorealism 
from the start. Definition or no definition, however, it seems to me that La 
strada doesnt contradict Paisan (1946) or Open City (1945) at all, any more 
than it does Bicycle Thieves (1948), for that matter. But it is true that Fellini 
[who co-scripted Paisan and Open City] has tåken a route different from that 
of Zavattini [who wrote Bicycle Thieves] . Together with Rossellini, Fellini has 
opted for a neorealism of the person. To be sure, Rossellinis early films, Paisan 
and Open City among them, identified moral choice with social consequence, 
because these two spheres had been equated during the Resistance. But his 
Europe '51 (1952) to some degree retreated from social responsibility into 
the realm of spiritual destiny. What in this film and in La strada nonetheless 
remains neorealist and can even be considered one of neorealisrns genuine 
achievements, is the aesthetic that informs the action, an aesthetic that 
French ecclesiastic and film critic Amédée Ayfre has judiciously described as 
phenomenological. 

One can see very well, for example, that in La strada nothing is ever revealed 



"La Strada" 



153 



to us from inside the characters. Fellinis point of view is the exact opposite 
of the one that would be tåken by psychological realism, which claims to 
analyze character and finally to uncover feelings. Yet anything can happen 
in the quasi-Shakespearean world of La strada. Gelsomina and the artiste 
known as the Fool have an air of the marvelous about them which barnes and 
irritates Zampano — but this quality is neither supernatural nor gratuitous, nor 
even "poetic"; instead, it comes across simply as another property of nature. 
Furthermore, to return to psychology, the very being of these characters 
is precisely in their not having any or at least in their possessing such a 
malformed and primitive psychology that a description of it would have 
nothing more than pathological interest. But they do have a soul. And La 
strada is nothing but their experience of their souls and the revelation of this 
before our eyes. 




La Strada, dir. Federico Fellini, 1954. 



Gelsomina learns from the Fool that she has a place in the world. Gelsomina 
the idiot, homely and useless, discovers one day through this tightrope walker 
and clown that she is something other than a reject, an outcast; better, that 
she is irreplaceable and that she has a destiny, which is to be indispensable 
to Zampano. The most powerful event in the film is, without question, 
Gelsominas breakdown after Zampano murders the Fool. From this point on, 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



she is beset by an agony situated in that instant in which the Fool, who had 
virtually conferred her being onto her, ceased to exist. Little mouse-like cries 
escape uncontrollably from her lips at the sight of her dead friend: "The Fool 
is sick, the Fool is sick." 

The stupid, obstinate, and brutish Zampano cant realize how much he 
needs Gelsomina, and above all he cant sense the eminently spiritual nature 
of the bond that unites the two of them. Terrified by the poor girls suffering 
and at the end of his patience, he abandons her. But just as the death of 
the Fool had made life unbearable for Gelsomina, so too will Zampanos 
abandonment of her and then her death make life unbearable for him. Little 
by little this mass of muscles is reduced to its spiritual core, and Zampano 
ends up being crushed by the absence of Gelsomina from his life. Hes not 
crushed by remorse over what he did, or even by his love for her, but rather by 
overwhelming and incomprehensible anguish, which can only be the response 
of his soul to being deprived of Gelsomina. 

Thus one can look at La strada as a phenomenology of the soul, perhaps 
even of the communion of saints, and at the very least as a phenomenology 
of the reciprocal nature of salvation. Where these slow-witted individuals are 
concerned, it is impossible to confuse ultimate spiritual realities with those of 
intelligence, passion, pleasure, or beauty. The soul reveals itself here beyond 
psychological or aesthetic categories, and it reveals itself all the more, precisely 
because one cant bedeck it with the trappings of conscience. The salt of the 
tears that Zampano sheds for the first time in his sorry life, on the beach that 
Gelsomina loved, is the same salt as that of the infinite sea, which will never 
again be able to relieve its own anguish at the sufferings of men. 



Chapter Sixteen 



"Cruel Naples" 
(Gold of Naples) 



"Naples cruelle" (L'Or de Naples), Cahiers du cinéma, n. 48 (June 1955), pp. 47-52, 
in Quest-ce que le cinema? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 104-111; translated 
into English by Bert Cardullo. 

As strange as it might seem on first consideration, Vittorio De Sica is an 
accursed filmmaker. I may sound paradoxical, or I may seem to be looking 
for an argument, because my statement increases in ambiguity when you 
simultaneously consider the popularity of De Sica the actor and the critical 
importance assigned to Bicycle Thieves (1948). However, all we have to do is 
to reflect a little to realize that Miracle in Milan (1952) has enjoyed critical 
but not popular success and that Umberto D. (1952) hasnt enjoyed any 
success at all. The conditions under which the latter film was released in Paris, 
moreover, amounted to a guarantee of failure. The festival prize lists are also 
quite significant in this regard. The year Umberto D. was shown in Cannes (at 
a matinee screening), the jury preferred to honor Cops and Robbers (1951; dir. 
Mario Monicelli). 

In 1953, the jury underlined the Hollywood-style immorality of De Sicas 
Stazione Termini (Terminal Station, aka Indiscretion of an American Wife, 
1953) by deciding to ignore it; this year again, the audience and the jury have 
coldly received Gold of Naples (1954), and De Sica wasnt even awarded a tiny 
tin palm. In the end the film is going to be released in Paris only at the cost of 
cutting two of its six original episodes, including the best one, or at least the 
most significant. In the meantime, however, De Sicas popularity as an actor 
continues to grow thanks to films like Bread, Love, and Jealousy (1954; dir. 
Luigi Comencini). 



155 



156 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



It is fashionable among young critics to drag De Sicas name through the 
mud, and I grant that he occasionally deserves some serious condemnation. 
But before condemning him, one should at least try to understand why the 
festival juries, half the traditional critics, and the public in general ignore 
or despise not so much his most ambitious films, like Umberto D., as his 
compromised projects such as Stazione Termini and Gold ofNaples. For it is 
indeed quite strange that, even when De Sica resigns himself, for reasons far 
too obvious, to making a film with stars and vignettes and built around elever 
tricks and purple passages, everything turns out as though he had again been 
far too ambitious for a festival audience. The criticisms I have heard people 
make of his work at Cannes are thus not at all justified. Granted, Gold ofNaples 
is a prostituted film, but it is still so classy that it seems prudish and boring to 
those who admire our own Adorable Creatures (1952; dir. Christian-Jaque) or 
bourgeois psychological dramas tailor-made by good French craftsmen. 

Everything, then, depends on your point of reference. Absolutely speaking, 
or compared with his own work and with what we like of other Italian films, 
De Sica has not hesitated in Gold ofNaples to make deplorable concessions. 
But compared with what the public and often even the critics know — or 
dont know — of Italian cinema, his film remains a monument to austerity. 
One must nonetheless reproach De Sica first with betraying neorealism here 
by pretending to serve it. In fact, Gold of Naples is an essentially theatrical 
film, through the twists of its plot as well as through the decisive impor- 
tance it accords to acting. Certainly, the movies episodes can be considered 
"short stories" or "novelettes," but their skillful and rigorous construction 
deprives them of the dramatic indeterminacy that constitutes neorealism. 
The incidents and the characters proceed from the action in Gold ofNaples, 
they dont precede it. De Sica has succeeded in regenerating the structure of 
conventional drama or the dramatic novel through certain elements borrowed 
from neorealism. By multiplying the picturesque and unexpected touches, 
he wraps his dramatic construction in a coral-like cover of small facts that 
deceive us as to the make-up of the rock underneath. Neorealism being in 
essence a denial of dramatic categories, De Sica substitutes for them a micro- 
dramaturgy that suggests the absence of action. In the process, however, he 
evidences only a superior theatrical cunning. 

This is why the episode I prefer is perhaps the one that people generally 
deem the most offensive: I mean the card game, because it is also the sketch 
whose scenic resources are the least camouflaged. This story of a monoma- 
niacal baron whom the baroness forbids to gamble yet who ends up gambling 
away his jacket and glasses with the concierges son, is a farce conceived for 
acting effects. There are limits to the ambition of this genre but these limits are 



"Cruel Naples" {Gold of Naples) 



157 




Gold of Naples, episode "Pizza on Credit," dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1954. 



acceptable, especially when you consider that what De Sica adds to the genre 
considerably increases its aesthetic value. It is always better to give more than 
you had promised rather than to fail to live up to the promises you have made. 

Conversely, I much admire — without liking it very much — the sketch that 
the filmmakers undoubtedly prefer: I refer to the burial of a child (unfortu- 
nately cut by the French distributor). De Sica and Zavattini wanted to give 
a guarantee of neorealism here; unlike other episodes, which are artfully 
constructed, this one appears to be a reconstituted scene from a news 
bulletin. De Sica limits himself to following the funeral procession of the 
dead child. The mothers behavior, the wretched exhibition she displays all 
along the way in order to give her childs last voyage a solemnity that is both 
tragic and joyous — this never crystallizes into "action," yet manages to hold 
our interest from beginning to end. Such an astonishing bravura passage in 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



principle belongs to the same aesthetic family as the maids wake-up scene in 
Umberto D. Why do I feel embarrassed by it, then? Probably because of the 
moral contradiction between the subject matter and the almost unseemly 
cleverness-by-understatement with which the sequence is handled. Such 
control over the means and ends, when the situation of the characters calls for 
sympathy and even pity, is somewhat irritating. Think by comparison of the 
simple, efficient, and sincere lyricism of Jules Dassin in Rififi (1955) during the 
return of the inhabitants of Saint-Etienne with the child. 

As you can see, my reservations are not small. They wont prevent me, 
however, from acknowledging the merits of Gold of Naples from a relative 
point of view. If the film was not successful at Cannes, that must be because 
it nonetheless contains something good and worthy. We must explain the 
paradox of its failure not by the shortcomings that I have just mentioned 
and that on the contrary should have contributed to its success, but by the 
upholding at its very core of a union of form and content, which justines a 
certain admiration. 

First and foremost, craft is craft, and one had better realize this before 
criticizing its use. I apologize to our Hitchcocko-Hawksians, whom I am 
going to shock, but it is Hitchcock whom I can't help minking of here. Of 
course, De Sicas skill does not bring itself to bear on the same elements of 
the mise en scene as Hitchcocks. The structuring of the image plays only a 
secondary role (although there is an unforgettable find in Gold of Naples: 
the elevator in the barons house). The mise en scene is practically identified 
here with the directing of the actors, but you have to consider that the result 
is the same in that nothing in the picture seems likely to escape from the 
filmmakers control. 

Although there are fifty kids scattered like a flight of birds in the frame, 
for example, each of them seems to be making at every instance exactly the 
gesture that needs to be made, paradoxically even when that gesture must be 
unexpected. It is in fact unexpected, and that is the amazing part. De Sica 
relies on a certain margin of freedom and spontaneity that his walk-ons give 
him, but this man and his power are such that not a single discordant or 
approximate note is struck in the crowd. God and the Devil submit to that 
power. This directors self-assurance verges on obscenity during the scene 
of the barons card game. Before De Sica, filmmakers had managed to make 
children play-act, but even the most gifted child is capable after all of only 
two or three expressions, which the director then strives to justify. For the 
first time, one can see here a ten- or eleven-year-old express in ten minutes a 
gamut of feelings whose variety equals that of his grown-up partner, in this 
case De Sica himself. 



"Cruel Naples" {Gold of Naples) 



159 




Gold of Naples, episode "The Racketeer," dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1954. 



As for the professional actors, it would be an understatement to say that De 
Sica brings out the best in them: he reconstitutes them entirely. Not through 
the facile device of giving the professional a role that is different from the part 
he usually plays, but by somehow revealing in him another actor, a richer one 
who is more imbued with the character he is playing. Take, for instance, the 
extraordinary acting of Silvana Mangano, but take also the acting of Toto in 
the story of the racketeer. When you consider that it has become a common- 
place of French criticism to maintain that our own Fernandel is a dramatic 
actor who too seldom finds work as one, all you can do is burst out laughing. 
Fernandel at his best looks like nothing more than an industrious clown 
alongside the simplicity and intelligence evidenced here by his Italian rival. 
God knows, however, that their usual antics are pretty much alike. 

Nonetheless, everything happens in this film as though De Sica had the 
power of endowing his nonprofessional actors with the skill of experienced 
performers and his established stars with the spontaneity of common people. 
Of course, I'm not saying that this is my personal ideal, but it is, at least 
implicitly, the one which almost all filmmakers would strive to attain if it 
were in their power to get close to it. De Sica achieves it so perfectly that the 
audience, which is used to approximations of the ideal, perhaps feels more ill 
at ease than pleased in front of it. 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



I dont think, either, that in general the qualities of the script have been 
properly appreciated. Whatever one may think of the choice of subjects, it 
goes without saying that each of these could have been treated in a different 
way Yet, the construction of all the episodes, and particularly of their dénoue- 
ments, is amazingly intelligent. As a general rule, each story calls for an ending 
in, say, the style of Marcel Pagnol, that is, a false and moving one. Naturally, 
the average French filmmaker would substitute for such an ending one in 
Charles Spaaks style, that is, a true-to-life and pessimistic conclusion. The 
ambitious filmmaker would reject both the "good" and the "bad" endings 
and, in an act of supreme daring, would not end the story at all. De Sica and 
Zavattini manage to go them all one better. 

The story seems at first to be moving toward a happy ending. We expect a 
surprise, and it comes with an unexpected development in the action, which 
makes us believe that in fact there will be no ending. Then, in the last few 
seconds, the script uncovers the most unexpected yet most necessary ending, 
which is the dialectical synthesis of all the endings that it had rejected. This is 
not due to the cleverness of an inventive screenwriter who seeks to surprise 
us at all costs, but rather to a constructive determination that throws a far 
more illuminating light on the whole action. The device presupposes such 
a dramatic strictness that it sometimes goes unnoticed even by the most 
attentive viewers, who cannot even imagine that the filmmaker might have 
aimed so high. 

The ending of the episode entitled "Theresa," for example, was incorrectly 
interpreted by almost everyone. This is the nearly Dostoyevskian story of 
a young and rich Neapolitan bourgeois who decides to marry a prostitute 
to punish himself for having let a young woman die of love for him. This 
marriage, which must necessarily, and according to his own wishes, destroy 
his happiness, endanger his wealth, and ruin his reputation, takes place 
without the poor girls understanding the game that she is being made to 
play (this is almost the plot of Bressons The Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne 
[1946] in reverse). When she discovers that she is present only to remind her 
husband of his sin, her despair is immense. In his masochistic madness, the 
man hadnt even considered any of the most humanly plausible propositions: 
first, that his prostitute could make a nice and sweet wife, if only out of her 
gratitude to him, or second, that she could summon up enough female dignity 
to reject such a hateful game. Projecting onto the whole world his desire for 
castigation, he can see the woman he has chosen as true only to the a priori 
moral ideal of the prostitute, that is, as a diabolical and wicked being. 

This summary clearly indicates the two possible endings: (1) the man, 
longing for unhappiness, finds happiness in spite of himself with a good 



"Cruel Naples" {Gold of Naples) 



161 



girl (the Marcel Pagnol ending); (2) the prostitute, her female pride injured, 
prefers going back to the street in spite of her dreams of bourgeois respect- 
ability, comfort, and fidelity (the Spaak ending). Well, after her awful wedding 
night, the girl does run away; then, in the street, she thinks the situation over 
and goes back. I have heard people account for this third ending with psycho- 
logical explanations that vary more or less according to the following: after 
she has run away out of wounded pride, the poor woman tinds herself alone 
on the street in the rain and realizes all that she is going to lose; resigned, she 
silences her dignity and returns to bourgeois society, which is the ideal of 
every "self-respecting" prostitute. 

This explanation, however, suggests that the viewer has not carefully watched 
the last two shots. Primarily because Silvana Manganos face, carefully lit by 
a street lamp, expresses a whole range of feelings, the final one of which is 
neither resignation nor envy but rather hatred, which is moreover confirmed 
by the way she knocks on the door to ask her husband for admittance. The 
only plausible explanation, then, is that she had left on account of the blow 
to her pride, and that she comes back for the same reason, after some deep 
reflection. She has understood that flight is a doubly absurd solution, since it 
will deprive her of the material advantages of marriage as well as the consola- 
tions of revenge. Her return is therefore neither resigned nor submissive; it is 
an even higher manifestation of her femininity than flight, for it proves she 
thought that even a prostitute had the right to be loved. And now she's going 
to prove something even greater: that she is capable of avenging herself. 

Thus matters finally get settled according to the mans will, but for moral 
reasons that are exactly the opposite of those he imagines. The girl is going 
to take her expected place in the unbelievable scheme of things; toward her 
husband shes now going to behave according to the conventional idea of 
a prostitute, because she will have ceased to be one passively. She will thus 
affirm her womanhood through hatred. Fulfilling the mans wish, she will 
then bring him to his doom, not because prostitutes will be prostitutes but 
out of deliberate choice, as a free woman of the world. You will recognize that 
this ending is not only unexpected and brilliant (provided that you at least 
see it), but also and above all that it retroactively raises the action from the 
primitive level of psycho-sociology to the higher plane of morality and even 
metaphysics. 

Gold of Naples seems to me to contain still other important lessons. To 
the extent that the filmmakers intention is perhaps more or less deliber- 
ately impure, some aspects of the Zavattini-De Sica collaboration come out 
more clearly. I will first underline the fact that Gold of Naples is a film of 
cruelty — a cruelty that has undoubtedly contributed to disconcerting the 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



festival audience, which is used to associating good humor with southern 
European verve. Naples in this sense is nothing but a super-Marseilles. 

I myself have made rather naive statements in the past about De Sicas 
kindheartedness. And it is true that sentimentalism drips profusely from his 
films. But much will be forgiven him here for the authenticity of his cruelty. 
Granted, goodness in art can quickly become revolting. Chaplins tramp 
may indeed look so good to those who dont discern the ambiguity in his 
heart. Goodness in itself does not signify anything, but its close and almost 
inevitable association with cruelty has a moral and aesthetic meaning that 
psychology alone cannot account for. Am I wrong? It seems to me that such 
kind cruelty, or cruel kindness, is far more than simply the invention of De 
Sica and Zavattini. 

In any case, what seems very clear to me is that the directors talent 
essentially proceeds from his talent as an actor, and that this talent is not 
neorealistic by nature. If the collaboration between Zavattini and De Sica 
has been so successful, this is perhaps due to the attraction of opposites. 
In this marriage, the writer has brought the realistic temperament and the 
director the knowledge of theatrical exploitation. But these two artists were 
too intelligent or too gifted just to add the latter to the former: they subtly 
combined the two or, if I may be permitted such an image, they emulsified 
them. Theatricality and realism are so subtly mixed in their work that their 
aesthetic suspension gives the illusion of a new body, which would then be 
neorealism. But its stability is uncertain, and we can very well see in Gold of 
Naples how a great deal of the theatricality precipitates to the bottom — or is it 
the foundation? — of the mise en scene. 



Chapter Seventeen 



In Defense of 
Rossellini" 



"Défense de Rossellini," a letter to the editor of Cinema nuovo (August 1955), in 
Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 150-160; in Quest-ce 
que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), pp. 347-357; translated into 
English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 (Univ. of California Press, 1971), 
pp. 93-101, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

AN OPEN LETTER TO GUIDO ARISTARCO, EDITORTN- 
CHIEF OF CINEMA NUOVO 

I have been meaning to write these comments for some time now, but month 
after month I have deferred doing so, put off by the importance of the problem 
and its many ramifications. I am also aware that I lack theoretical preparation, 
as compared with the seriousness and thoroughness with which Italian critics 
on the left devote themselves to the study of neorealism in depth. Although 
I welcomed neorealism on its first arrival in France and have ever since 
continued to devote to it the unstinting best of my critical attentions, I cannot 
claim to have a coherent theory to rival your own, nor can I pretend to be 
able to situate the phenomenon of neorealism in the history of Italian culture 
as surely as you can. If you take into account, too, the fact that I am bound 
to look absurd if I try to instruct Italians in their own cinema, you will have 
the major reasons why I have failed as yet to respond to your invitation to 
discuss in the pages of Cinema Nuovo the critical position which you and your 
associates have tåken on some recent films. 

I would like to remind you, before getting to the heart of the discussion, that 
differences of opinion due to nationality are frequent even among critics of the 



163 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



same generation whom all else would seem to align. We of Cahiers du cinéma, 
for example, have experienced this with the staff of Sight and Sound, and I 
am not ashamed to admit that it was at least in part the high regard in which 
Lindsay Anderson held Jacques Beckers Casque dor (which was a failure in 
France in 1952) that led me to reconsider my own view and to see virtues in 
the film which had escaped me. 

It is true that the judgment of a foreigner is apt sometimes to go astray 
because of a lack of familiarity with the context from which a film comes. 
For example, the success outside France of films by Duvivier or Pagnol is 
clearly the result of a misunderstanding. Foreign critics admire in these films 
a picture of France that seems to them "wonderfully typical," and they confuse 
this "exoticism" with the value of these films as film. I recognize that these 
differences are of little consequence and I presume that the success abroad of 
some Italian films, which I think you are right to hold in low esteem, is based 
on the same kind of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, I do not think that this 
is true of the films that have caused us to disagree, nor even with neorealism 
in general. 

To begin with, you will allow that French critics were not wrong, at the 
very outset, in being more enthusiastic than Italian critics about the films that 
today are the undisputed glory of the Italian cinema on both sides of the Alps. 
For my part, I flatter myself that I was one of the few French critics who always 
linked the rebirth of Italian cinema to "neorealism," even at the time when it 
was fashionable to say that the term was meaningless. Today I still think it the 
best term there is to designate what is best and most creative in Italian cinema. 
But this is also why I am disturbed by the way in which you defend it. 

Do I dare suggest, dear Aristarco, that the harsh line tåken by Cinema 
Nuovo against certain tendencies in neorealism which you consider regressive 
prompts me to fear that you are thereby unwittingly putting the knife to what 
is most alive and rich in your own cinema? I am eclectic enough in what I 
most admire in Italian cinema, but you have passed some harsh judgments 
that I am prepared to accept: you are an Italian. I can understand why the 
success in France of Luigi Comencinis Pane, Amore e Fantasie (Bread, Love, 
and Dreams, 1953) annoys you; your reaction resembles mine to Duvivier 's 
films on Paris. But, on the other hand, when I find you hunting for fleas 
in Gelsominas tousled hair, or dismissing Rossellinis last film as less than 
nothing I am forced to conclude that under the guise of theoretical integrity 
you are in the process of nipping in the bud some of the liveliest and most 
promising offshoots of what I persist in calling neorealism. 

You tell me you are amazed at the relative success which Rossellinis Viaggio 
in Italia (Voyage in Italy, 1953) has had in Paris, and even more so by the 



"In Defense of Rossellini" 



165 




Voyage in Italy, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1953. 



almost unanimous enthusiasm of the French critics for it. As for La strada 
(1954), you are well aware of what a success it has been. These two films have 
come just at the right moment to restore Italian cinema not only in the interest 
of the general public but also in the esteem of the intellectuals — for interest in 
Italian film has flagged in the past year or two. The reasons for their success 
are in many ways very different. Nevertheless, far from their having been felt 
here as a break with neorealism and still less as a regression, they have given 
us a feeling of a creative inventiveness deriving directly from the spirit which 
informs the Italian school. I will try to tell you why 

But first I have to confess to a strong dislike for a notion of neorealism that 
is based, to the exclusion of all else, on what is only one of its present aspects, 
for this is to submit its future potential to a priori restrictions. Perhaps I dislike 
it so because I havent enough of a head for theory. I think, however, that it is 
because I prefer to allow art its natural freedom. In sterile periods theory is 
a fruitful source for the analysis of the causes of the drought, and it can help 
to create the conditions necessary for the rebirth. But when we have had the 
good fortune to witness the wonderful flowering of Italian cinema over the 
past ten years, is there not more danger than advantage to be gained if we try 
to lay down a law that we say is imposed by theory? 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



Not that we do not have to be strict. On the contrary, an exacting and 
rigorous criticism is needed — now more than ever, I think. But its concern 
should be to denounce commercial compromise, demagoguery, the lowering 
of the level of the ambitions, rather than to impose a priori aesthetic 
standards on artists. As I view it, a director whose aesthetic ideals are close 
to your own but who sets to work assuming that he can include only ten or 
twenty percent of these ideals in any commercial script he may happen to 
shoot, has less merit than a man who for better or worse makes films that 
conform to his ideal, even if his concept of neorealism differs from yours. 
In the first of these two films, you are content objectively to record that the 
film is at least in part free of compromise by according it two stars in your 
critique, but you consign the second film to aesthetic hell, without right of 
appeal. 

In your view Rossellini would, doubtless, be less to blame if he had made 
something like Stazione Termini (Terminal Station; aka Indiscretion of an 
American Wife, 1953) or Umberto D. (1952) rather than his own Giovanna 
d'Arco al rogo (Joan of Are at the Stake, 1954) or La Paura (Fear, 1954). It is 
not my intention to defend the author of Europe '51 (1952) at the expense of 
Lattuada or De Sica; the policy of compromise is defensible, up to a point. I 
am not going to try to define it here, but it does seem to me that Rossellinis 
independence gives his work — whatever one may think of it on other 
grounds — an integrity of style and a moral unity only too rare in cinema, 
which compel us to esteem it even before we admire it. 

But it is not on such methodological grounds as these that I hope to defend 
him. Instead, I will direct my argument on his behalf at the assumptions on 
which the discussion is based. Has Rossellini ever really been a neorealist 
and is he one still? It would seem to me that you admit that he has been a 
neorealist. How indeed can there be any question of the role played by Roma, 
cittå aperta (1945) and Paiså (1946) in the origin and development of neore- 
alism? But you say that a certain "regression" is already apparent in Germania, 
anno zero (1947), that it is decisive beginning with Stromboli (1950) and The 
Flowers of St. Francis (1950), and that it has become catastrophic in Europe '51 
and Viaggio in Italia. 

But what is it, in essence, that you find to blame in this aesthetic itinerary? 
Increasingly less concern for social realism, for chronicling the events of 
daily life, in favor, it is not to be denied, of an increasingly obvious moral 
message — a moral message that, depending on the degree of his malevolence, 
a person may identify with either one of the two major tendencies in Italian 
politics. I refuse to allow the discussion to descend to this dubious level. Even 
if Rossellini had in fact Christian-Democrat leanings (and of this there is no 



"In Defense of Rossellini" 



167 



proof, public or private, so far as I know), this would not be enough to exclude 
him a priori from the possibility of being a neorealist artist. But let that pass. 

It is true, nonetheless, that one does have a right to reject the moral or 
spiritual postulate that is increasingly evident in his work, but even so to reject 
this would not imply rejection of the aesthetic framework within which this 
message is manifest, unless the films of Rossellini were in fact films å thése — 
that is, unless they were mere dramatizations of a priori ideas. But in point of 
fact there is no Italian director in whose work aim and form are more closely 
linked, and it is precisely on this basis that I would characterize Rossellinis 
neorealism. 

If the word has any meaning — whatever the differences that arise over its 
interpretation, above and beyond a minimal agreement — in the first place it 
stands in opposition to the traditional dramatic systems and also to the various 
other known kinds of realism in literature and film with which we are familiar, 
through its claim that there is a certain "wholeness" to reality. Neorealism is 
a description of reality conceived as a whole by a consciousness disposed to 
see things as a whole. Neorealism contrasts with the realist aesthetics that 
preceded it, and in particular with naturalism and verism, in that its realism 
is not so much concerned with the choice of subject as with a particular way 
of regarding things. If you like, what is realist in Paiså is the Italian Resistance, 
but what is neorealist is Rossellinis direction — his presentation of the events, 
a presentation that is at once elliptical and synthetic. 

To put it still another way, neorealism by definition rejects analysis, whether 
political, moral, psychological, logical, or social, of the characters and their 
actions. It looks on reality as a whole, not incomprehensible, certainly, but 
inseparably one. This is why neorealism, although not necessarily antispec- 
tacular (though spectacle is to all intents and purposes alien to it), is at least 
basically antitheatrical in the degree that stage acting presupposes on the part 
of the actor a psychological analysis of the emotions to which a character is 
subject and a set of expressive physical signs that symbolize a whole range of 
moral categories. 

This does not at all mean that neorealism is limited to some otherwise 
indefinable "documentarianism" [or supposed attitude of impersonal objec- 
tivity] . Rossellini is fond of saying that a love not only for his characters but 
for the real world just as it is lies at the heart of his conception of the way a 
film is to be directed, and that it is precisely this love that precludes him from 
putting asunder what reality has joined together: namely, the character and 
the setting. Neorealism, then, is not characterized by a refusal to take a stand 
vis-å-vis the world, still less by a refusal to judge it; as a matter of fact, it always 
presupposes an attitude of mind: it is always reality as it is visible through an 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



artist, as refracted by his consciousness — but by his consciousness as a whole 
and not by his reason alone or his emotions or his beliefs — and reassembled 
from its distinguishable elements. 

I would put it this way: the traditional realist artist — Zola, for example — 
analyzes reality into parts, which he then reassembles in a synthesis the 
final determinant of which is his moral conception of the world, whereas 
the consciousness of the neorealist director filters reality. Undoubtedly, his 
consciousness, like that of everyone else, does not admit reality as a whole, 
but the selection that does occur is neither logical nor is it psychological; it 
is ontological, in the sense that the image of reality it restores to us is still a 
whole — just as a black and white photograph is not an image of reality broken 
down and put back together again "without the color" but rather a true imprint 
of reality, a kind of luminous mold in which color simply does not figure. 
There is ontological identity between the object and its photographic image. 




Voyage in Italy, dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1953. 



I may perhaps make myself better understood by an example from Viaggio 
in Italia. Admittedly the public is easily disappointed by the film in that the 
Naples which it depicts is incomplete. This reality is only a small part of 
the reality that might have been shown, but the little one sees — statues in 



"In Defense of Rossellini" 



169 



a museum, pregnant women, an excavation at Pompeii, the tail-end of the 
procession of the early Christian martyr Saint Januarius — has the quality 
of wholeness which in my view is essential. It is Naples "filtered" through 
the consciousness of the heroine. If the landscape is bare and confined, it is 
because the consciousness of an ordinary bourgeoise itself suffers from great 
spiritual poverty. Nevertheless, the Naples of the film is not false (which it 
could easily be with the Naples of a documentary three hours long). It is 
rather a mental landscape at once as objective as a straight photograph and 
as subjective as pure personal consciousness. We realize now that the attitude 
which Rossellini takes toward his characters and their geographical and social 
setting is, at one remove, the attitude of his heroine toward Naples — the 
difference being that his awareness is that of a highly cultured artist and, in 
my opinion, an artist of rare spiritual vitality. 

I apologize for proceeding by way of metaphor, but I am not a philosopher 
and I cannot convey my meaning any more directly. I will therefore attempt 
one more comparison. I will say this of the classical forms of art and of tradi- 
tional realism, that they are built as houses are built, with brick or cut stones. 
It is not a matter of calling into question either the utility of these houses or 
the beauty they may or may not have, or the perfect suitability of bricks to the 
building of houses. The reality of the brick lies less in its composition than it 
does in its form and its strength. It would never enter your head to define it 
as a piece of clay; its peculiar mineral composition matters little. What does 
count is that it have the right dimensions. A brick is the basic unit of a house. 
That this is so is proclaimed by its appearance. 

One can apply the same argument to the stones of which a bridge is 
constructed. They fit together perfectly to form an arch. But the big rocks 
that lie scattered in a ford are now and ever will be no more than mere rocks. 
Their reality as rocks is not affected when, leaping from one to another, I use 
them to cross the river. If the service which they have rendered is the same as 
that of the bridge, it is because I have brought my share of ingenuity to bear 
on their chance arrangement; I have added the motion which, though it alters 
neither their nature nor their appearance, gives them a provisional meaning 
and utility. In the same way, the neorealist film has a meaning, but it is a 
posteriori, to the extent that it permits our awareness to move from one fact 
to another, from one fragment of reality to the next, whereas in the classical 
artistic composition the meaning is established a priori: the house is already 
there in the brick. 

If my analysis is correct, it follows that the term neorealism should never be 
used as a noun, except to designate the neorealist directors as a body. Neorealism 
as such does not exist. There are only neorealist directors — whether they be 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



materialists, Christians, Communists, or whatever. Visconti is neorealistic in 
La terra trema (1948), a call to social revolt, and Rossellini is neorealistic in 
The Flowers of St. Francis, a film that lights up for us a purely spiritual reality. 
I will only deny the qualification neorealist to the director who, to persuade 
me, puts asunder what reality has joined together. In my view, then, Viaggio in 
Italia is neorealist — more so than Gold ofNaples (1954), for example, which I 
greatly admire but whose realism is basically psychological and subtly theat- 
rical, despite the many realistic touches that aim to take us in. 

I would go even further and claim that of all Italian directors, Rossellini has 
done the most to extend the frontiers of the neorealist aesthetic. I have said 
that there is no such thing as pure neorealism. The neorealist attitude is an 
ideal that one can approach to a greater or lesser degree. In all films termed 
neorealist there are traces still of traditional realism — spectacular, dramatic, 
or psychological. They can all be broken down into the following components: 
documentary reality plus something else, this something else being the plastic 
beauty of the images, the social sense, or the poetry, the comedy, and so on. 
You would look in vain in the works of Rossellini for some such distinction of 
event and intended effect. There is nothing in his films that belongs to liter- 
ature or to poetry, not even a trace of "the beautiful" in the merely pleasing 
sense of the word. Rossellini directs facts. It is as if his characters were haunted 
by some demon of movement. His little brothers of Saint Francis seem to have 
no better way of glorifying God than to run races. And what of the haunting 
death march of the little urchin in Germania, anno zero 7 . 

Gesture, change, physical movement constitute for Rossellini the essence of 
human reality. This means, too, that his characters are more apt to be affected 
by the settings through which they move than the settings are liable to be 
affected by their movement. The world of Rossellini is a world of pure acts, 
unimportant in themselves but preparing the way (as if unbeknownst to God 
himself) for the sudden dazzling revelation of their meaning. Thus it is with 
the miracle of Viaggio in Italia: unseen by the two leading characters, almost 
unseen even by the camera, and in any case ambiguous (for Rossellini does 
not claim that it is a miracle but only the noise and crowd movements that 
people are in the habit of calling a miracle), its impact on the consciousness of 
the characters is such, nonetheless, as to prompt the unexpected outpouring 
of their love for one another. 

To my mind, no one has been more successful in creating the aesthetic 
structure which in consequence of its strength, wholeness, and transparency 
is better suited to the direction of events than the author of Europe '51; the 
structure that Rossellini has created allows the viewer to see nothing but the 
event itself. This brings to mind the way in which some bodies can exist in 



"In Defense of Rossellini" 



171 



either an amorphous or a crystalline state. The art of Rossellini consists in 
knowing what has to be done to confer on the facts what is at once their 
most substantial and their most elegant shape — not the most graceful, but 
the sharpest in outline, the most direct, or the most trenchant. Neorealism 
discovers in Rossellini the style and the resources of abstraction. 

To have a regard for reality does not mean that what one does in fact is to 
pile up appearances. On the contrary, it means that one strips the appearances 
of all that is not essential, in order to get at the totality in its simplicity. The art 
of Rossellini is linear and melodic. True, several of his films make one think 
of a sketch: more is implicit in the line than it actually depicts. But is one to 
attribute such sureness of line to poverty of invention or to laziness? One 
would have to say the same of Matisse. Perhaps Rossellini is more a master of 
line than a painter, more a short-story writer than a novelist. But there is no 
hierarchy of genres, only of artists. 

I do not expect to have convinced you, my dear Aristarco. In any event, it is 
never with arguments that one wins over a person. The conviction one instills 
in them often counts for more. I shall be satisfied if just my conviction (in 
which you will find an echo of the admiration for Rossellini of several of my 
critic-colleagues) serves at least to stimulate your own. 



Chapter Eighteen 

De Sica and Rossellini 



"De Sica and Rossellini," Radio-Cinéma-Télévision (September 1955); in Quest-ce 
que le cinéma?Vo\. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 112-116; translated into English 
by Bert Cardullo. 

If Zavattini-De Sica and Rossellini do indeed embody what is best and purest 
in neorealism as the total description of the real, it is true that they also 
represent its opposite poles and that this opposition has become more and 
more marked through the years. I will reduce it to these two primary aspects: 
one has to do with content and the other with style. 

FOR ZAVATTINI-DE SICA, HUMAN REALITY IS A 
SOCIAL PHENOMENON 

By temperament, and perhaps also out of conviction, the team of Zavattini-De 
Sica essentially considers human reality first as a social phenomenon. This 
does not mean that they are not interested in the individual. Quite the 
contrary, Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D. (1952) are self-evidently pleas 
on behalf of the human being and his or her individual happiness, but the 
conditions of this happiness are reduced to a series of factual "prerequisites": 
unemployment and all its consequences, the State and its economic hypoc- 
risies, etc. In Zavattini, there is, on the one hand, man and his nature, and, on 
the other hand, all the complex social circumstances that beget suffering and 
tragedy. I am aware that I am oversimplifying matters here, but I dont think 
I am misrepresenting the gist of Zavattinis inspiration. For him, neorealism 
is first and foremost a realism of the relationship of the individual to society. 
This probably explains the preference, and even fondness, of left-wing critics 
for Zavattini. 



172 



"De Sica and Rossellini" 173 

FOR ROSSELLINI, A MORAL PROBLEM 

Even though the subject matter of Paiså and Germany, Year Zero could fool 
us with regard to Rossellinis ultimate concerns, I think that their true nature 
was not social, but moral. For the director of Stromboli (1950), The Miracle 
(1948), and Europe '51 (1952), the protagonist of the film must solve for 
himself an essential moral problem; he must find the answer to a question 
that will give the world its moral or ethical sense. This does not mean that, 
compared to Zavattinis concerns, Rossellinis ignore social reality. As with 
De Sica, a depiction of the historical context accompanies any depiction of 
the individual; Rossellini gives us a faithful and objective rendering of the 
shock of a moral event in the context of the social reality encountered by the 
individual: waves radiate from it and their effect on surrounding objects or 
obstacles is often reflected back to the source. 




Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977). 

It may even happen that the cause of the heros or heroines moral anguish 
is of an eminently social nature, as in Europe '51. This fools the bourgeois 
family, which is impervious to anxiety, as well as the priest, for whom spiritual 
problems must crystallize in religious sociology, or the communist militant 
who believes only in revolutionary efficiency But it is of course not because 
Vincent de Pauls sainthood was geared toward alleviating his times injustices 
that it was of a social nature. Thus, Rossellinis neorealism can tackle subjects 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



that appear to be related to the traditional ones of the novel, such as individual 
character analysis — and this is indeed the case in Voyage in Italy (1953). But 
this is done according to aesthetic laws that are precisely the opposite, whether 
the subject matter be on the surface social or psychological. 

Here is the definition of neorealism by Amédée Ayfre: "All the objective, 
subjective, and social elements of reality are in neorealism never analyzed as 
such; they are contained in a block of events with all its inextricable blurring: 
a block in time as well as in space, which spares us not one second, not one 
gesture. Above all, there is this way in neorealism of taking the opposite 
stance from that of analysis, of putting an end to the compartmentalized 
description of man and of the world." This definition seems valid for the films 
by Zavattini-De Sica as well as for those of Rossellini, in that the former as well 
as the latter purports to give us a global image of man — one that would not 
isolate him from his geographical, historical, and social context, and one that 
also rejects the dramatic organization of the narrative, because narrative is an 
abstract construct. The plot, if one can still call it that, no longer lies in some 
action that one could detach from events as if from a skeleton: it is immanent 
in the events themselves, contained in each instant of each of these events, 
indissociable from the fabric of life. 

ZAVATTINI ANALYZES, ROSSELLINI SYNTHESIZES 

But if this general observation applies to the Zavattinian ideal, as materi- 
alized for example by De Sica in the sequence of the little maids getting up in 
Umberto D., as well in whatever episode from Rossellinis The Flowers of St. 
Francis (1950) or Voyage in Italy, I must now point up a difference between the 
two filmmakers. One could no doubt otherwise characterize the difference in 
style between Rossellini and De Sica, but it seems to me that the gist of their 
opposition is that De Sicas directing is based on analysis, whereas Rossellinis 
is based on synthesis. 

Once after a long interview that Zavattini had given to me, I wrote that his 
cinematic ambition was to be, as it were, the Proust of the present tense of the 
indicative mood. Let me elaborate. For Zavattini, through De Sica, the idea is 
to observe our fellow man from closer and closer, to perceive the particular 
realities that make up his most trivial behaviors, then to capture even smaller 
realities, as if with a microscope that would magnify human activity more 
and more and progressively reveal a universe of consciousness, whereas what 
we usually see there is only an old man tidying up his room or a young girl 
grinding coffee. 

Rossellini, by contrast, would look at his characters from the large end of 



; De Sica and Rossellini" 



175 



a telescope. Of course, the distances I am alluding to here are figurative and 
purely theoretical, in the sense that we have the impression of witnessing 
events from afar, without being able to intervene, events whose causes we do 
not all discern and whose latent progression suddenly bursts into heartrending 
complications, which are both inevitable and unpredictable. This is true for 
the childs suicide at the beginning of Europe '51 or for the dénouement of 
Voyage in Italy, which is caused by a "miracle" invisible to the protagonists and 
of which the camera itself sees almost nothing. 

KINDNESS AND LOVE 

To conclude, I could perhaps say that neorealism for both Rossellini and De 
Sica amounts to becoming totally conscious of the human predicament, but 
that this awareness leads Zavattini to subdivide reality further and further, 
whereas it leads Rossellini to emphasize the forces which hold that reality 
together and restrict mans tragic liberty from all sides. From a different 
point of view, I would say that the progressive approach to the Zavattinian 
protagonist, his quasi-microscopic description, reveals a sympathetic intent 
that I would even call kindness. Whereas the Rossellinian distance — through 
the tension it creates between us and the protagonist, through the denial 
of psychological participation that this distance implies — imposes on us a 
relationship that can only be called love, but love that is not sentimental and 
that one could go so far as to call metaphysical. 



Chapter Nineteen 

"Senso" 



"Senso',' France-Observateur (February 1956); in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 
(Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 117-121; translated into English by Bert Cardullo. 

The action of Senso (1954) takes place in 1866 at the time of the "Risorgimento" 
[the nineteenth-century movement for the liberation and unification of Italy]. 
Venice is under Austrian occupation. The performance of a Verdi opera (II 
Trovatore [1853]) at the Phoenix Theater is the occasion for a patriotic demon- 
stration during which Marquis Ussoni, one of the leaders of the "Resistance," 
provokes a young Austrian officer, Franz Mahler. Ussoni is arrested upon his 
exit from the theater. To save him, his cousin, Countess Livia Serpieti, seeks 
to make the acquaintance of the handsome Austrian lieutenant, who easily 
takes advantage of the situation in order to try out on the imprudent countess 
his abilities as a skillful and cynical seducer. The result is that he becomes her 
lover. Such a limited summary hardly permits me to analyze the at once subtle 
and elemental dealings that unite for the worst this weak yet lucid young man 
and this beautiful older woman, who will sacrifice all honor and decency for 
him and ultimately betray the cause of her friends in the "Resistance," whom 
she had served as an advisor. 

According to impeccable logic, Visconti develops the action on two levels: 
the historical and the individual. The love relationship of the two protago- 
nists begins and evolves in an irreversibly downward direction, whereas all 
the values (moral as well as political) that attach to the historical context 
are progressive and bracing. But this moral-political Manichaeism is not the 
product of a elever screenwriters or directors trick: it is inherent in the story 
from the start, and subsequent events simply conspire to bring it out. To be 
sure, there are villains (Count Serpieri, for example, who is the typical "collab- 
orator"), but the protagonists are doomed without them, and Franz Mahler, 



176 



"Senso" 



177 



in his refined and clear-eyed ignominy, knows it. Marquis Ussoni, however, is 
there as proof of the fact that history does not dispose of anyone a priori. On 
the contrary: he digs deep into his familys heritage to find the courage and 
determination with which to go on. And if she hadht been blinded by love, 
Livia herself would perhaps have continued to participate in the triumph of 
History. But as soon as she is blindfolded, she can but fight in vain against the 
current as she is dragged down along with her social class to the bottom of 
the abyss, where she will have only the fatal consolation of joining her lover. 




Senso, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1954. 



What should be transparent even from my poor summary of the action 
are both the films transposition of time from the "Risorgimento" to the 
Occupation and Resistance of World War II (this transposition is carried 
very far in its details, especially where the relations between the underground 
"Resistance" and the official national army are concerned), and its Marxist 
analysis of a romantic entanglement. From these two points of view, Senso 
would certainly deserve a fuller discussion than I am able to give here. But I 
must at least point out that the appeal of this ideological perspective is in its 
never appearing to have been slavishly applied from outside the aesthetic logic 
of the narrative; on the contrary: the ideological component comes across 
as an added dimension that naturally attends the revelation of the romantic 
truth. Nevertheless, I dont think that this breaks any absolutely new ground. 
In this respect, Senso is probably simply adhering to the novelistic aesthetic 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



that originated with Flaubert and that was particularly affirmed by naturalism. 
The film thus allies itself with a literature that is simultaneously descriptive 
and critical. Still, and for reasons completely contingent on their source, good 
examples of Marxist inspiration are so rare that it would be difficult to remain 
insensitive to this one. 




Obsession, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1942. 



But lets try to define the style adopted by Visconti in this film. I dont think 
that, stylistically, Senso is essentially different from Ossessione (1942) or La 
terra tretna (1948), as some of Viscontis own comments might suggest. I 
recognize, on the contrary, the same fundamental preoccupations in this latest 
work. Of La terra trema, for instance, I would not hesitate to say that Visconti 
had indulged in the "theatricalization" of doubly realistic material: realistic, 
in the normal sense, since the film was about a real village and the authentic 
life of its authentic inhabitants, but also in the restrictive, "miserabilistic" 
sense. Theres nothing less "beautiful," less noble, less spectacular than this 
poor society of fishermen. Naturally, I dont intend the term "theatrical" in 
its pejorative sense. I use it instead to suggest the nobility and extraordinary 
dignity that Viscontis mise en scene injected into this reality. These fishermen 
were not dressed in rags, they were draped in them like tragic princes. Not 
because Visconti was trying to distort or simply interpret their existence, but 
because he was revealing its immanent dignity. 



"Senso" 



179 



Of Senso I would conversely say that it reveals the realism of theater. Not 
only because Visconti gives us this motif from the start with the opera whose 
action, as it were, leaves the stage for the house, but also because the historical 
aspect, despite all its ramifications — especially in matters aristocratic and 
military — is experienced first on the level of décor and spectacle. This is true 
for all "period films," of course, especially those in color. But starting from this 
point, Visconti continuously seeks to impose upon this magnificent, beauti- 
fully composed, almost picturesque setting the rigor and, most importantly, 
the unobtrusiveness of a documentary. 

Let me give only one example among a hundred. A few moments before 
battle, the Italian soldiers, who had been hiding behind haystacks, come out 
and fall in for the attack. The folded-up flag is brought to the commanding 
officer; brand-new in its protective covering, it must be tåken out before it can 
be unfurled. This detail is barely visible in an extreme long shot in which every 
element is given the same, strict weight. Now imagine a similar scene shot by 
Duvivier or Christian-Jaque: the flag would be used as a dramatic symbol or 
as an integral part of the mise en scene. For Visconti, what matters is that the 
flag is new (as new as the Italian army); he calls attention to it, however, not 
through the framing, but only, where possible, through heightened realism. 

Visconti claims that in Senso he wanted to show the "melodrama" (read: the 
opera) of life. If this was his intention, his film is a complete success. La terra 
trema had the magnitude and the nobility of opera; Senso has the density and 
the import of reality. It is possible that Viscontis film satisfies another kind 
of dialectic. It would hardly take away from the films achievement if it didnt 
exclusively satisfy the one described here. 



Chapter Twenty 



"Il Bi do ne, or the 
Road to Salvation 
Reconsidered" 



"Il bidone ou le salut en question," France-Observateur (March 1956); in Quest-ce 
que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 129-133; translated into English 
by Bert Cardullo. 

When I heard one of my colleagues cleverly sneer, "It's a swindle!" to a 
countryman after the screening of this film at the Venice Festival, I didnt feel 
very proud of being a French critic. But these "wise guys" werent as harsh 
as most Italian critics, for I have also heard the most esteemed among them 
declare that II bidone {The Swindle, 1955) defmitely proved that those who 
had praised La strada (1954) had been mistaken. For my part, I admit that the 
Venice screening left me perplexed because I dont understand Italian: some 
long sequences therefore appeared to me to be doubly questionable. But, far 
from negating my admiration for La strada, Il bidone seemed to me to confirm 
the genius that was manifested in it. Even if Fellinis latest film was relatively 
unsuccessful, it still suggested a power of invention, a poetic and moral vision, 
that was by no means inferior to that of La strada or even I vitelloni (1953). 

But II bidone is not an unsuccessful film. I realize this today after seeing it 
for the third time, subtitled at last, and rid of a few scenes, which were indeed 
unnecessary. Not that they were unjustified from a certain point of view. But, 
in fact, the film is now too short, for Fellini had intended to develop these 
scenes further, which would have been useful to a full understanding of the 
characters' destinies; for some reason, in the end he gave up on doing so. So 
the excised scenes were superfluous, and it was better to cut too much than 



180 



"Il Bidone, or the Road to Salvation Reconsidered" 



181 



not enough. This is not at all comparable, fortunately, to the mutilations 
undergone at a certain point by a print of La strada, nor is it comparable, 
even more fortunately, to the mutilations allegedly intended for II bidone by 
the French distributor: these were supposed to do nothing less than radically 
transform the meaning of the dénouement. 

Augusto, the protagonist of the film, does indeed die for having tried to con 
his two pals into believing that he has tåken pity on the paralyzed girl whose 
parents the three of them have just swindled. In reality, he wants to keep the 
money for himself, so that he can help his own daughter pursue her studies. 
The other swindlers beat him up in revenge and leave him to die alone on a 
stony hillside. We can see that if Augusto had really let himself be moved by 
the poor peasant girl, he would have been redeemed and would have died an 
innocent man, much to the great satisfaction of the Manichaeism that presides 
over all commercial happy endings. 

Does his behavior make him fundamentally good or evil? Fortunately, 
Fellini never places himself on the level of such moral psychology. His 
universe dramaturgically remaps the road to salvation. People are what they 
are — beings — and what they become, not what they do; their actions, whether 
good or evil or filled with purity of intention, dont permit them to be judged 
any more objectively than subjectively. The purity of the man lies deeper: for 
Fellini, it is essentially defined by the transparency or the opacity of the soul, 
or even, if you will, by a certain perviousness to grace. Naturally, those who 
are perfectly transparent and open to other peoples love want to do good and 
generally do so (although this type of "good" often has very little to do with 
morality in the strictest sense); but we are dealing here with the consequences 
of essence, not the causes of action. 

So, we may believe that Augusto is saved, just like Zampano in La strada, 
even though he has intended and done evil right up to the end, because he has 
at least died in a state of anxiety. His conversation with the paralyzed girl did 
not move him at all in the psychological sense of the word. Far from making 
him comprehend the shame of betraying a childs confidence, it doubtless 
gave him, on the contrary, the courage and determination to swindle his 
accomplices. At the same time, however, his conversation with the paralyzed 
girl introduced turmoil to his soul; it made him see, finally, not so much the 
accidental lie of his actions as the essential imposture of his life. 

By contrast, Picasso (whose story was abbreviated in the final version) is 
a nice, sensitive, sentimental man, always full of good intentions and always 
ready to take pity on others or on himself. But for all this, Picassos salvation 
is probably hopeless. Why does he steal? Because he "looks like an angel"; 
with a face like his, he couldnt be suspected of anything. Incapable of truly 



182 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



responding to his internal fissures, of bridging them, Picasso is doomed to 
darkness and to ultimate downfall, despite the gentleness and love he displays 
toward his wife and child. Picassos actions do not make him evil, but he is lost, 
just as Augusto is probably saved, despite the fact that he is incapable of pity. 




Il bidone, dir. Federico Fellini, 1955. 



I havent used this Christian vocabulary intentionally — although a Christian 
inspiration is certainly undeniable in Fellinis work — but such a vocabulary 
is undoubtedly the one that best conveys the nature of the realities that are 
the object of a film like II bidone. Whether construed as metaphors or as 
metaphysical truths, the terms salvation or damnation, darkness or trans- 
parency of the soul, are the ones that impose themselves on me as I write, 
since they most accurately express the state of ultimate urgency in which our 
being is suspended as we otherwise conduct our lives. 

Of these swindlers Fellini has said, I think, that they are aging vitelloni 
(overgrown calves). The phrase perfectly describes these second-rate con 
men whose art resides solely in their huckster s gift of gab; they cant even 
get rich off their work, unlike the former colleague of theirs who is now a 
drug dealer and who invites them to celebrate New Year s Eve at his luxurious 
apartment. This extraordinary sequence, in which the chief device of contem- 
porary cinema, the surprise party, is once again to be found, is the climax of 



"Il Bidone, or the Road to Salvation Reconsidered" 



183 



the film. If there can be talk of symbolism at the precise moment in II bidone 
where realism is at its peak, then one can say that Fellini doubtless wanted to 
construct an image of hell, and a rather scorching one at that, for these poor 
devils who will not be able to endure its fire for very long. 

I realize that I havent told much of the "story." This is probably because 
I surmised that the reader had already read several summaries of it. One 
reason above all others is that the film doesnt much encourage plot summary. 
Although full of strange and funny episodes, it goes beyond the merely pictur- 
esque. If I dwelt on that aspect, Id only be treating the accessories. Il bidone 
is built, or rather created, like a novel: from the very inside of the characters. 
Fellini has certainly never conceived a situation for its narrative logic, nor 
even less for its dramatic necessity, and he doesnt do so here. The events 
happen all of a sudden: they are totally unpredictable, yet somehow inevitable, 
as the ones would have been that Fellini could have substituted for them. 

If I had to compare this world to the world of a well-known novelist, it 
would unquestionably be that of Dostoyevsky, despite all the particulars that 
separate the two. In the Russian novelists work, as in Fellinis, events are in 
fact never anything but the completely accidental instruments through which 
human souls feel their way, and nothing ever happens that is fundamentally 
connected with their salvation or damnation. Good and evil, happiness and 
anguish, are from this point of view nothing more than relative categories 
in comparison with the absolute alternative in which these protagonists are 
trapped, and that I cant help but call, even if only metaphorically, salvation 
or damnation. 



Chapter Twenty-one 

The Roof 



"Il tetto" France-Observateur, 7.343 (6 December 1956), p. 18; translated into 
English by Bert Cardullo. 

We know how disastrous the state of Italian cinema is: it has been put out of 
balance economically by super-productions and overpriced casting, and it is 
artistically torn by the contradictions that exist between the exploitation of 
the star system and the recipes of neorealism. This crisis does not at all mean 
that neorealism has run out of steam and that we are witnessing its decadence. 
Quite the contrary. It is the forsaking of neorealism or its watering down 
by producers that is the cause of all this. Nevertheless, everything that has 
mattered in the Italian cinema for the last three years, Fellini to begin with of 
course, evidences the vitality of an inspiration that seems to be inherent in the 
particular genius of Italian cinema. 

One of the most obvious symptoms of the crisis, after the quasi-exile of 
Rossellini [as a result of his extra-marital relationship with Ingrid Bergman] is 
the unemployment of the director Vittorio De Sica. The filmmaker of Umberto 
D. (1952) is not guilty of disingenuousness here. He has repeatedly claimed 
that he had to have a career as an actor in order to be able from time to time to 
both produce and direct a film according to his hearts wishes. In this respect, 
Gold ofNaples (1954) was a compromise (albeit a very honorable one), as it 
was based on a neorealist theme. De Sica nevertheless made "an actor s movie." 
But with The Roof (1956), we see him at last try to go back to the pure neore- 
alist formula of Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D. 



184 



"The Roof" 



185 



A HOUSE IN ONE NIGHT 

The simplicity of this film is such that one can describe its plot completely in 
just a few sentences. A young couple does not have a private residence. Living 
under the same roof as the brother-in-law and the parents-in-law turns sour: 
after an argument, they leave. But where will they find a roof? These two then 
decide to build on a dumping ground in the area one of those unlawful shacks 
that Italian jurisprudence tolerates as long as they are erected, roof included, 
before the arrival of the police. In fact, their idea is to build, in just one night, 
a small brick house of a few square meters. But if the roof is not laid before 
dawn, the police will have everything torn down and the unlucky owner will 
incur a debt of several thousand lire. This summary is an indication of the 
construction of The Roof: particularly noteworthy in the first part is the social 
realism of the films descriptiveness, whereas the second part is underscored 
by a suspense that gives the picture a certain dramatic tension. But this 
tension or suspense is only the scaffolding that supports the small events that 
constitute the true subject matter of the film, from beginning to end. 




The Roof, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1956. 



186 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



A WONDERFUL FEMALE DISCOVERY 

All things considered, The Roof unlike Umberto D. for instance, does come 
in for some criticism. The screenplay is perhaps not as rigorous as one might 
expect from Cesare Zavattini when he refuses to make any concessions. The 
films lack of rigorousness is mainly due to its dramatic simplicity, which 
borders on the simplistic. But I still have a weakness for The Roof, because of 
the sweetness of the story, its transparence or plainness, and the charm of its 
romance. Falling back on old principles, De Sica has naturally east nonprofes- 
sional actors in The Roof. With Gabriella Palotta, who plays the young woman, 
he has probably made his most wonderful female discovery. And God knows 
how felicitous his acting choices have already been in Miracle in Milan (1951) 
and Umberto D. Paradoxically, it is good that the young mans presence in De 
Sicas latest film is not so convincing, as some inequality was necessary here. 
This much genius in the casting can be bearable only for one actor! 




The Roof, dir. Vittorio De Sica, 1956. 



Unless you have a particular allergy to the films of De Sica and Zavattini, 
and despite the small reservations one might have if one happens to be in a 
picky mood, The Roof, then, is an admirable film and should therefore not be 
missed. 



Chapter Twenty-two 



Neorealism Returns: 
Love in the City 



"Le néo-réalisme se retourne: HAmour å la ville" Education Nationale (February 
28, 1957) and Cahiers du cinéma, 12, #69 (March 1957), pp. 44-46; in Quest-ce que 
le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 146-149; translated into English by 
Bert Cardullo. 

In truth, and it is a fortunate one, neorealisms existence has preceded 
its essence, as it were. The concern for neorealist dogma and theory 
appeared only later among a few directors and critics, more specifically 
when inspiration appeared to start drying up. Cesare Zavattini himself (the 
prolific screenwriter who alone accounts for half of Italian cinema) notably 
advocated extremist film theories at the 1954 Parma Conference. To him, 
neorealisms purpose is essentially to reveal social reality, to transform into 
spectacle the human world that surrounds us and that we nevertheless 
ignore. But paradoxically, this "spectacularization" must modify reality as 
little as possible; the ideal would be to film things as they are and yet make 
them speak to our eyes, our ears, and our minds. The art of the filmmaker 
would consist, if you will, in making things shine from the inside, to release 
in them a glow, a brilliance that would bring them to our attention, our love, 
and our reflection. 

Pushing these theories even further, however, Zavattini draws from them 
conclusions with regard to directing and acting — conclusions that were 
bound to stun my French mind. "I got my inspiration from a trivial event," 
the screenwriter of Bicycle Thieves (1948) says, and the ideal according to 
him would be not only to reconstitute it in all its details, but also to have it 
re-enacted in front of the camera by its true protagonists. If the event is a 



187 



188 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



murder, the re-enactment would be by the murderer himself, the victim being 
of course out of the picture! 

Rossellini one day told me that the true Cartesians are not the French, as is 
commonly believed, but the Italians. The fact is, one would think, like Boileau, 
that since what is true is not always what is plausible, it is not only permis- 
sible but also necessary to betray the truth intelligently sometimes in order to 
serve it better. This is not the place to examine and criticize in detail Zavattinis 
theory; I will simply say that such an ideal construction as his could only be 
born in the mind of a poet, not of a realist. 

Love in the City is my real subject here: made in 1953, it has been released 
in France only now for reasons of distribution and censorship that are equally 
absurd. The film was banned from exportation because of one of its sketches, 
the one [titled Love That Pays] in which Carlo Lizzani was interviewing prosti - 
tutes. So it had to be cut, and the version we are able to see in France has only 
five episodes. We will just take comfort from the fact that, according to some 
witnesses, censorship has for once not cut the best episode. 




Love in the City, episode "Heaven for Four Hours," dir. Dino Risi, 1953. 



For the critic who is interested in neorealism, this film has a particular 
theoretical interest. Its endeavor is almost experimental and is very much 
inspired by Zavattinis concept of film as inquiry. Zavattini even kept for 



"Neorealism Returns: Love in the City" 



189 



himself, as screenwriter and adaptor, the novella Catherines Story, and I think 
he monitored from up close the making of this episode, which was entrusted 
to the very young Francesco Maselli, whose talent has since been confirmed 
elsewhere. Zavattini told me about all this in 1954: it was a work that was very 
close to his heart and, at the time, he considered it to be the closest to his 
neorealist ideal. 

I must admit right away that the unequal results of the experiment all seem 
to me, in different respects, paradoxical. After reading the screenplays only, 
I would have picked Antonionis script as the winner and Zavattinis as the 
loser. Michelangelo Antonioni, the director of Story of a Love Affair (1950), 
has chosen an approach that is rather close, I think, to what could have 
been done on television. The idea in his sketch, Attempted Suicide, was to 
conduct an inquiry into suicide, and a certain number of people who escaped 
death by their own hand are gathered in front of the camera. Invisible, the 
filmmaker questions them and they speak. But Antonioni did not play the 
game completely correctly: he nevertheless spectacularized his approach. 
Moreover, his method, which is giving such good results on French TV, is 
perhaps vitiated by the incredible ability of the Italians to perform what they 
are saying. Whatever one may say about this in the end, here lies one of the 




Love in the City, episode "The Italians Turn Their Heads," dir. Alberto Lattuada, 1953. 



190 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



secrets of neorealism: the performative ability of ordinary Italian Citizens. By 
trying to force his nonprofessionals, through his approach, to remain relatively 
impassive, Antonioni was in fact going against the Italian temperament. 

By contrast, Zavattini seems to owe his episodes success only to the miracle 
of the same temperament. We know that Zavattini does not stop at subject 
matter that consists only of trivial events from daily reality; he dreams of 
having the trivial events in question re-enacted in front of the camera by 
those who were their protagonists in real life. This is, as I have already noted, 
the idea not of a realist but of a poet, and the warmest supporters of Zavattini 
in Italy are hard put to follow him down this particular path. Perhaps they 
are wrong, in that this unremitting determination to strip filmmaking of all 
traces of artistic intervention clears the way, ironically, for unexpected and 
new aesthetic phenomena. I must admit in any case that nothing seems to me 
a priori more absurd than this idea of re-locating the poor woman who had 
abandoned her child on some wasteland, just to have her minutely re-live in 
front of the camera the day before and the day of her desperate action. 

There are two points to make here: first, if this story could in itself be turned 
into a good screenplay, total faithfulness to it would only damage its potential 
as compelling drama; second, it seems obvious that only an incredible coinci- 
dence could predestine the real protagonist of this event to play her own role 
in the film. All I can do is remind the reader of the aforementioned maxim 
put forward by Boileau regarding truth and plausibility. To wit: we know that 
a murderer does not necessarily look like one. Yet, one is forced to note that 
reality in this instance transcends every cautionary restriction of art. Not 
because documenting this particular tale in all its crude and brutal reality 
would make of art a kind of derisory statement, but, on the contrary, because, 
given this scenario (even if it were not literally true), no other way of directing 
could have done it more justice. Indeed, if one had looked all over Italy for a 
woman of the people able to play the role of Catherine, one would inevitably 
have had to choose Catherine herself. It remains to be seen whether Zavattinis 
theories triumphed here or whether their implementation only emphasized 
with the utmost clarity the ethnic, social, and individual predicaments that 
make such a neorealism possible in the first place. 

The other three episodes of Love in the City most assuredly deserve equal 
criticism. But I shall forsake such criticism because their unequal success 
seems to me to be less than exemplary of the purpose of this whole endeavor. 
Lets just say that the Federico Fellini episode (A Matrimonial Agency) is 
good without being purely Fellinian, if only because of the way in which 
it mixes landscape with character. The Dino Risi episode (Heaven for Four 
Hours) is diabolically skillful, but it is slightly marred by small dramatic, if 



"Neorealism Returns: Love in the City" 



191 




Love in the City, epidode "The Italians Turn Their Heads," dir. Alberto Lattuada, 1953. 



not demagogic, concessions. As for the Alberto Lattuada sketch {The Italians 
Turn Their Heads), I have to say that it is the one most tampered with during 
the editing process; but much will be forgiven its creators for a dazzling 
opening and a sensational musical score. The music of this film on the whole 
is especially elaborate, most notably in Zavattinis episode, Catherines Story. 



Chapter Twenty-three 



"The Profound 
Originality of 
I Vitelloni" 



"La profonde originalité des Vitelloni," Radio-Cinéma-Télévision (October 1957); 
in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), pp. 143-145; translated 
into English by Bert Cardullo. 

Without question, few films in the history of cinema have captured their era 
and exercised their influence more subtly than I vitelloni (1953). Chaplins 
films operated through the miraculously universal character of the Tramp. 
Films like The Threepenny Opera (1931) owe their audience, and the mark 
they have left on an entire generation, in part to the particularly successful 
marriage of music and cinema. By contrast, nothing in I vitelloni seemed 
capable of impressing itself on the viewers memory: no famous actors; not 
even, as in La strada (1954), a poetically original and picturesque character 
around which the film is built; no story, or almost none. And yet the term 
"vitelloni" has become a common word: it now designates an international 
human type, and what is more, some of the best films each year remind us 
of Fellinis own (most recently, the American film The Bachelor Party [1957], 
directed by Delbert Mann from a screenplay by Paddy Chayevsky). 

Recently I saw I vitelloni again, and I was deeply struck right away by the 
fact that, despite some minor weaknesses, the film had not only not aged, it 
had even matured with time, as if its message hadnt been able upon initial 
release to reveal the full scope of its richness, and as if we had needed some 
time to gauge its importance. Of course, it is true that three subsequent Fellini 
films have helped to give the earlier one more trenchancy, depth, and nuance: 



192 




Ivitelloni, dir. Federico Fellini, 1953. 



194 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



La strada, Il bidone (1955), and The Nights of Cabiria (1957). But I think that 
everything was already contained in I vitelloni and set out there with magis- 
terial genius. 

Much has been written about this films message and its moral and spiritual 
significance; so Id prefer to underline what the repercussions of this message 
are, not exactly for film form (never has the distinction between form and 
content been revealed to be more artificial than in I vitelloni), but for the idea 
of cinematic "spectacle." From this point of view, the profound originality of I 
vitelloni seems to me to reside in its negation of the norms of storytelling on 
the screen. In almost all films, our interest is aroused not only by the plot or 
the action, but also by the development of the characters and the relationship 
of that development to the chain of events. Granted, neorealism had already 
changed things by succeeding in interesting us in small events that seemed to 
have no dramatic import (as inBicycle Thieves [1948] and Umberto D. [1952]). 
Still, the action was carefully portioned out and the main character, whose 
personality was otherwise given or was determined by his environment, did 
evolve toward a dénouement. 

With Fellini, its different. His protagonists dont "evolve"; they mature. 
What we see them do on the screen is not only frequently without dramatic 
value, but also without logical meaning in the narrative chain. Most of the 
time it is pointless "agitation," which is the opposite of action: stupid strolls 
along beaches, absurd divagations, ridiculous jokes. And yet, it is through 
these gestures and activities, which appear so marginal that they are cut in 
most films, that the characters reveal themselves to us in their innermost 
essence. Not that they reveal to us what we conventionally call "a psychology." 
The Fellinian protagonist is not a "character," he is a mode of being, a way 
of living. This is why the director can define him thoroughly through his 
behavior: his walk, his dress, his hairstyle, his mustache, his dark glasses. Such 
antipsychological cinema goes farther and deeper than psychology, however: 
it goes to the protagonists soul. This cinema of the soul thus focuses most 
exclusively on appearances; it is a cinema in which the viewers gaze is most 
important. Fellini has made positively ridiculous a certain analytical and 
dramatic tradition of filmmaking by substituting for it a pure phenomenology 
of being in which the most commonplace of mans gestures can be the beacons 
of his destiny and his salvation. 



Chapter Twenty-four 



"Cabiria: The Voyag-e to 
the End of Neorealism" 



"Cabiria ou le voyage au bout du néo-réalisme," Cahiers du cinéma, n. 76 
(November 1957), p. 2-7; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? Vol. 4 (Éditions du Cerf, 1962), 
pp. 134-142; in Quest-ce que le cinéma? (Cerf, 1975 [single-volume version]), 
pp. 337-345; translated into English by Hugh Gray in What Is Cinema? Vol. 2 
(Univ. of California Press, 1971), pp. 83-92, and edited below by Bert Cardullo. 

As I sit down to write this article, I have no idea what kind of reception 
Fellinis latest film will have. I hope it is as enthusiastic as I think it should 
be, but I do not conceal from myself the fact that there are two categories of 
viewers who may have reservations about the film. The first is that segment of 
the general public likely to be put off by the way the story mixes the strange 
with what seems to be an almost melodramatic naiveté. These people can 
accept the theme of the whore with a heart of gold only if it is spiced with 
crime. The second belongs, albeit reluctantly, to that part of the "elite" which 
supports Fellini almost in spite of itself. Constrained to admire La strada 
(1954) and under even more constraint from its austerity and its "outcast" 
status to admire II bidone (1955), I expect these viewers now to criticize Le 
notti di Cabiria (1957) for being "too well made": a film in which practically 
nothing is left to chance, a film that is elever — artful even. Lets forget the first 
objection; it is important only in the effect it may have at the box office. The 
second, however, is worth refuting. 

The least surprising thing about Le notti di Cabiria is not that this is the 
first time Fellini has succeeded in putting together a masterly script, with an 
action that cannot be faulted — unmarred by clichés or missing links, one in 
which there could be no place for the unhappy cuts and the corrections in 



195 



196 



André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



editing from which La strada and II bidone suffered. (The original-language 
version shown in Paris does, however, reveal the deletion of at least one long 
scene that was still in the film when it was shown at Cannes, namely the 
scene of "the visitor of Saint Vincent de Paul" to which I allude later.) Of 
course, Lo sceicco bianco (1952) and even I vitelloni (1953) were not clumsy 
in their construction, but chiefly because, though their themes were specifi- 
cally Fellinian, they were still being expressed within a framework provided 
by relatively traditional scenarios. Fellini has finally east these crutches aside 
with La strada: theme and character alone are the final determinants in the 
story now, to the exclusion of all else; story has nothing now to do with what 
one calls plot; I even have doubts that it is proper here to speak of "action." 
The same is true of II bidone. 

It is not that Fellini would like to return to the excuses which drama affords 
him in his earlier films. Quite the contrary. Le notti di Cabiria goes even 
beyond II bidone, but here the contradictions between what I will call the 
"verticality" of its authors themes and the "horizontality" of the requirements 
of narrative have been reconciled. It is within the Fellinian system that he now 
finds his solutions. This does not prevent the viewer from possibly mistaking 
brilliant perfection for mere facility, if not indeed for betrayal. All the same, 
on one score at least Fellini has deceived himself a little: is he not counting on 




TheNights of Cabiria, dir. Federico Fellini, 1957. 



"Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism" 



197 



the character played by Francois Perier (who to me seems miscast) to have a 
surprise effect? 

Now it is clear that any effect of "suspense" or even of "drama" is essentially 
alien to the Fellinian system, in which it is impossible for time ever to serve 
as an abstract or dynamic support — as an a priori framework for narrative 
structure. In La strada as in II bidone, time is nothing more than the shapeless 
framework modified by fortuitous events that affect the fate of his heroes, 
though never in consequence of external necessity. Events do not "happen" 
in Fellinis world; they "befall" its inhabitants. That is to say they occur as 
an effect of "vertical" gravity, not in conformity to the laws of "horizontal" 
causality. 

As for the characters themselves, they exist and change only in reference to 
a purely internal kind of time — which I cannot qualify even as Bergsonian, 
insofar as Bergsons theory of the Données immédiates de la conscience 
contains a strong element of psychologism. Let us avoid the vague terms of 
a "spiritualizing" vocabulary. Let us not say that the transformation of the 
characters takes place at the level of the "soul." But it has at least to occur at 
that depth of their being into which consciousness only occasionally reaches 
down. This does not mean at the level of the unconscious or the subconscious 
but rather the level on which what Jean-Paul Sartre calls the "basic project" 
obtains, the level of ontology. Thus the Fellinian character does not evolve; 
he ripens or at the most becomes transformed (whence the metaphor of the 
angels wings, to which I will shortly return). 

A SPURIOUS MELODRAMA 

But let us confine ourselves, for the moment, to the structure of the script. 
I totally reject, then, the coup de theatre in Le notti di Cabiria that belatedly 
reveals Oscar a swindler. Fellini must have been aware of what he was doing 
because, as if to compound his sin, he makes Francois Perier wear dark glasses 
when he is about to turn "wicked." What of it? This is a minor concession 
indeed and I find it easy to pardon in view of the care Fellini now takes to 
avoid in this film the grave danger to which a complicated and much too 
facile shooting script exposed him in II bidone. I find it all the more easy to 
pardon when it is the only concession he makes in this film; for the rest Fellini 
communicates the tension and the rigor of tragedy to it without ever having 
to fall back on devices alien to his universe. 

Cabiria, the little prostitute whose simple soul is rooted in hope, is not a 
character out of melodrama, because her desire to "get out" is not motivated 
by the ideals of bourgeois morality or a strictly bourgeois sociology. She does 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



not hold her trade in contempt. As a matter of fact, if there were such creatures 
as pure-hearted pimps capable of understanding her and of embodying not 
love indeed but just a belief in life, she would doubtless see no incompatibility 
between her secret hopes and her nighttime activities. Does she not owe one 
of her greatest moments of happiness — happiness followed consequently by 
an even more bitter deception — to her chance meeting with a famous film star 
who because he is drunk and feeling embittered against love proposes to take 
her home to his luxurious apartment. There was something to make the other 
girls just die of envy! But the incident is fated to come to a pitiful end, because 
after all a prostitutes trade commonly destines her only to disappointments; 
this is why she longs, more or less consciously, to get out of it through the 
impossible love of some stalwart fellow who will make no demands of her. If 
we seem now to have reached an outcome typical of bourgeois melodrama, it 
is in any case by a very different route. 




The Nights of Cabiria, dir. Federico Fellini, 1957. 



Le notti di Cabiria — like La strada, like II bidone, and, in the final analysis, 
like I vitelloni — is the story of ascesis, of renunciation, and (however you 
choose to interpret the term) of salvation. The beauty and the rigor of its 
construction proceed this time from the perfect economy of its constituent 
episodes. Each of them, as I have said earlier, exists by and for itself, unique 
and colorful as an event, but now each belongs to an order of things that never 
fails to reveal itself in retrospect as having been absolutely necessary. As she 
goes from hope to hope, plumbing en route the depths of betrayal, contempt, 



"Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism" 



199 



and poverty, Cabiria follows a path on which every stop readies her for the 
stage ahead. When one pauses and reflects, one realizes that there is nothing 
in the film, before the meeting with the benefactor of the tramps (whose 
irruption into the film seems at first sight to be no more than a characteristic 
piece of Fellinian bravura), which is not proved subsequently to be necessary 
to trick Cabiria into making an act of ill-placed faith; for if such men do exist, 
then every miracle is possible and we, too, will be without mistrust when 
Perier appears. 

I do not intend to repeat what has been written about Fellinis message. It 
has, anyway, been noticeably the same since I vitelloni. This is not to be tåken 
as a sign of sterility. On the contrary, while variety is the mark of a "director," 
it is unity of inspiration that connotes the true "author." But in the light of this 
new masterpiece maybe I can still attempt to throw a little more light on what 
in essence is Fellinis style. 

A REALISM OF APPEARANCES 

It is absurd, preposterous even, to deny him a place among the neorealists. 
Such a judgment could only be possible on ideological grounds. It is true that 
Fellinis realism, though social in origin, is not social in intent. This remains as 
individual as it is in Chekhov or Dostoyevsky. Realism, let me repeat, is to be 
defined not in terms of ends but of means, and neorealism by a specific kind 
of relationship of means to ends. What De Sica has in common with Rossellini 
and Fellini is obviously not the deep meaning of their films — even if, as it 
happens, these more or less coincide — but the pride of place they all give to 
the representation of reality at the expense of dramatic structures. 

To put if more precisely, the Italian cinema has replaced a "realism" 
deriving in point of content from the naturalism of novels and structurally 
from theater with what, for brevitys sake, we shall call "phenomenological" 
realism that never "adjusts" reality to meet the needs imposed by psychology 
or drama. The relation between meaning and appearance having been in a 
sense inverted, appearance is always presented as a unique discovery, an 
almost documentary revelation that retains its full force of vividness and 
detail. Whence the directors art lies in the skill with which he compels the 
event to reveal its meaning or at least the meaning he lends it — without 
removing any of its ambiguity. 

Thus defined, neorealism is not the exclusive property of any one ideology 
nor even of any one ideal, no more than it excludes any other ideal — no more, 
in point of fact, than reality excludes anything. I even tend to view Fellini as 
the director who goes the farthest of any to date in this neorealist aesthetic, 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



who goes even so far that he goes all the way through it and finds himself on 
the other side. 

Let us consider how free Fellinis direction is from the encumbrances 
of psychological after-effects. His characters are never defined by their 
"character" but exclusively by their appearance. I deliberately avoid the word 
"behavior" because its meaning has become too restricted; the way people 
behave is only one element in the knowledge we have of them. We know them 
by many other signs, not only their faces, of course, but by the way they move, 
by everything that makes the body the outer shell of the inner man — even 
more, perhaps, by things still more external than these, things on the frontier 
between the individual and the world, things such as haircut, mustache, 
clothing, eye-glasses (the one prop that Fellini has used to a point where it 
has become a gimmick). Then, beyond that again, setting, too, has a role to 
play — not, of course, in an expressionistic sense but rather as establishing a 
harmony or a disharmony between setting and character. I am thinking in 
particular of the extraordinary relationship established between Cabiria and 
the unaccustomed settings into which Nazzari inveigles her, the nightclub and 
the luxurious apartment. 

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THINGS 

But it is here that we reach the boundaries of realism; here, too, that Fellini, 
who drives on further still, takes us beyond them. It is a little as if, having 
been led to this degree of interest in appearances, we were now to see the 
characters no longer among the objects but, as if these had become trans- 
parent, through them. I mean by this that without our noticing the world has 
moved from meaning to analogy, then from analogy to identification with 
the supernatural. I apologize for this equivocal word; the reader may replace 
it with whatever he will — "poetry" or "surrealism" or "magic" — whatever the 
term that expresses the hidden accord that things maintain with an invisible 
counterpart of which they are, so to speak, merely the adumbration. 

Let us take one example from among many others of this process of "super- 
naturalization," which is to be found in the metaphor of the angel. From his 
first films, Fellini has been haunted by the angelizing of his characters, as if 
the angelic state were the ultimate referent in his universe, the final measure 
of being. One can trace this tendency in its explicit development at least from 
I vitelloni on: Sordi dresses up for the carnival as a guardian angel; a little 
later on what Fabrizi steals, as if by chance, is the carved wooden statue of an 
angel. But these allusions are direct and concrete. Subtler still, and all the more 
interesting because it seems unconscious, is the shot in which the monk who 



"Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism" 



201 



has come down from working in a tree loads a long string of little branches 
on his back. This detail is nothing more than a nice "realistic" touch for us, 
perhaps even for Fellini himself, until at the end of II bidone we see Antonio 
dying at the side of the road: in the white light of dawn he sees a procession 
of children and women bearing bundles of sticks on their backs: angels pass! I 
must note, too, how in the same film Picasso races down a street and the tails 
of his raincoat spread out behind him like little wings. It is that same Richard 
Basehart again who appears before Gelsomina as if he were weightless, a 
dazzling sight on his high wire under the spotlights. 

There is no end to Fellinis symbolism. Certainly, it would be possible to 
study the whole body of his work from this one angle. What needed to be 
done was simply to place it within the context of the logic of neorealism, for 
it is evident that these associations of objects and characters which constitute 
Fellinis universe derive their value and their importance from realism 
alone — or, to put it a better way, perhaps, from the objectivity with which 
they are recorded. It is not in order to look like an angel that the friår carries 
his bundles of sticks on his back, but it is enough to see the wing in the twigs 
for the old monk to be transformed into one. One might say that Fellini is 
not opposed to realism, any more than he is to neorealism, but rather that he 
achieves it surpassingly in a poetic reordering of the world. 

A REVOLUTION IN NARRATIVE 

Fellini creates a similar revolution at the narrative level. From this point of 
view, to be sure, neorealism is also a revolution in form that comes to bear on 
content. For example, the priority which they accord incident over plot has led 
De Sica and Zavattini to replace plot as such with a microaction based on an 
infinitely divisible attention to the complexities in even the most ordinary of 
events. This in itself rules out the slightest hierarchy, whether psychological, 
dramatic, or ideological, among the incidents that are portrayed. This does 
not mean, of course, that the director is obliged to renounce all choice over 
what he is to show us, but it does mean that he no longer makes the choice in 
reference to some pre-existing dramatic organization. In this new perspective, 
the important sequence can just as well be the long scene that "serves no 
purpose" by traditional screenplay standards. (This is true of the Saint- 
Vincent-de-Paul sequence that has been deleted from the film.) 

Nonetheless — this is true even of Umberto D. (1952), which perhaps repre- 
sents the limits of experimentation in this new dramaturgy — the evolution 
of film follows an invisible thread. Fellini, I think, brings the neorealist 
revolution to its point of perfection when he introduces a new kind of script, 



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André Bazin and Italian Neorealism 



with the scenario lacking any dramatic linking, based as it is, to the exclusion 
of all else, on the phenomenological description of the characters. In the 
films of Fellini, the scenes that establish the logical relations, the significant 
changes of fortune, the major points of dramatic articulation, only provide the 
continuity links, while the long descriptive sequences, seeming to exercise no 
effect on the unfolding of the "action" proper, constitute the truly important 
and revealing scenes. In I vitelloni, these are the nocturnal walks, the senseless 
strolls on the beach; in La strada, the visit to the convent; in II bidone, the 
evening at the nightclub or the New Years celebration. It is not when they are 
doing something specific that Fellinis characters best reveal themselves to the 
viewer but by their endless milling around. 

If there are, still, tensions and climaxes in the films of Fellini that leave 
nothing to be desired as regards drama or tragedy, it is because, in the 
absence of traditional dramatic causality, the incidents in his films develop 
effects of analogy and echo. Fellinis hero never reaches the final crisis (which 
destroys him and saves him) by a progressive dramatic linking but because 
the circumstances somehow or other affect him, build up inside him like the 
vibrant energy in a resonating body. He does not develop; he is transformed, 
overturning finally like an iceberg whose center of buoyancy has shifted 
unseen. 

EYE TO EYE 

By way of conclusion, and to compress the disturbing perfection of Le notti di 
Cabiria into a single phrase, I would like to analyze the final shot of the film, 
which strikes me, when everything else is tåken into account, as the boldest 
and the most powerful shot in the whole of Fellinis work. Cabiria, stripped of 
everything — her money, her love, her faith — emptied now of herself, stands 
on a road without hope. A group of boys and girls swarm into the scene 
singing and dancing as they go, and from the depths of her nothingness 
Cabiria slowly returns to life; she starts to smile again; soon she is dancing, 
too. It is easy to imagine how artificial and symbolic this ending would have 
been, casting aside as it does all the objections of verisimilitude, if Fellini had 
not succeeded in projecting his film onto a higher plane by a single detail of 
direction, a stroke of real genius that forces us suddenly to identify with his 
heroine. 

Chaplins name is often mentioned in connection with La strada, but I 
have never thought the comparison between Gelsomina and Charlie (which 
I find hard to take in itself) very convincing. The first shot that is not only up 
to Chaplins level but the true equal of his best inventions is the final shot of 



"Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism" 



203 



Le notti di Cabiria, when Giulietta Masina turns toward the camera and her 
glance crosses ours. As far as I know, Chaplin is the only man in the history 
of film who made successful systematic use of this gesture, which the books 
about filmmaking are unanimous in condemning. Nor would it be in place if 
when she looked us in the eye Cabiria seemed to come bearing some ultimate 
truth. But the finishing touch to this stroke of directorial genius is this, that 
Cabirias glance falls several times on the camera without ever quite coming 
to rest there. The lights go up on this marvel of ambiguity. 

Cabiria is doubtless still the heroine of the adventures which she has been 
living out before us, somewhere behind that screen, but here she is now 
inviting us, too, with her glance to follow her on the road to which she is about 
to return. The invitation is chaste, discreet, and indefinite enough that we can 
pretend to think that she means to be looking at somebody else. At the same 
time, though, it is also definite and direct enough to remove us quite finally 
from our role of spectator. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films ofltalian 
Neorealism (including precursors and successors) 



ABBREVIATIONS: 

prod. = production company 
dir. = director 
sc. = scenario 
adapt. = adaptation 
cin. = cinematography 
des. = design (art direction) 
cos. = costumes 
mus. = music 
ed. = editor 

Sperduti nei buio 
(Lost in the Dark), 1914 

Credits prod.: Morgana Films, Rome; dir.: Nino Martoglio; sc: from the play 
by Roberto Bracco (1901); adapt.: Roberto Bracco; mus.: Enrico De 
Leva. 

Cast Giovanni Grasso (The Blind Man, Nunzio), Maria Carmi (Livia 
Blanchard), Virginia Balistrieri (Paolina), Vittorina Moneta 
(Paolinas Mother), Dillo Lombardi (The Duke of Vallenza), Toto 
Majorana (Nunzios Godfather), Gina Benvenuti (Nunzios Mother), 
Ettore Mazzanti. 

Note: This film disappeared in 1943 during the evacuation of the Centro 
Sperimentale. Sperduti nei buio was remade in 1947. 



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Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



205 



Assunta Spina 
1915 

Credits prod.: Caesar Films, Rome; dir.: Gustavo Serena; se: from the play 
by Salvatore Di Giacomo (1909); cm.: Alberto G. Carta. 

Cast Francesca Bertini (Assunta Spina), Gustavo Serena (Michele), Carlo 
Benetti (Federico Funelli), Alberto Albertini (Raffaele), Antonia 
Crucchi (Assuntas Father), Amelia Cipriani (Peppina), Alberto 
Collo. 

Note: Assunta spina was remade in 1948. It was produced by Ora-Titanus and 
directed by Mario Mattoli; the adaptation was by Eduardo De Filippo and 
Gino Capriolo, from the play by Salvatore Di Giacomo (1909); the cinematog- 
raphy was by Gabor Pogany; the design was by Piero Filippone; and the music 
was by Renzo Rossellini. Among the actors were Anna Magnani, Antonio 
Centa, Eduardo De Filippo, and Titina De Filippo. 

Teresa Raquin 
1915 

Credits dir.: Nino Martoglio; se: from the novel by Émile Zola (1867). 
Cast Maria Carmi, Dillo Lombardi, Giacinta Pezzana. 

Cavalleria rusticana 
(Rustic Chivalry), 1916 

Credits dir.: Ubalda Maria Del Colle; se: from the story by Giovanni Verga 
(1880). 

Cast Tilde Pini, Bianca Lorenzoni, Ugo Gracci. 

Note: Cavalleria rusticana was remade in 1939. It was produced by Scalera 
(Cesare Zanetti) and directed by Amleto Palermi; the adaptation was by 
Tomaso Smith, Amleto Palermi, P. M. Rosso di San Secondo, and Santi 
Savarino, from the story by Giovanni Verga (1880); the cinematography 
was by Massimo Terzano; the design was by Nino Maccarones; the music 
was by Alessandro Cicognini; and the editor was Eraldo Da Roma. Cast: 
Isa Pola (Santuzza), Carlo Ninchi (Compar Alfio), Doris Duranti (Gna 
Lola), Leonardo Cortese (Turiddu), Bella Starace Sainati (Gna Nunzia), Luigi 
Almirante (Zio Brasi), Carlo Romano (Bammulu). 

Cavalleria rusticana was again remade in 1953 with the alternate title 
Fatal Desire. It was produced by Excelsa/Ultra (Carlo Ponti) and directed by 
Carmine Gallone; the adaptation was by Mario Monicelli, Basilio Franchina, 
Francesco De Feo, Art Cohn, and Carmine Gallone, from the story by 
Giovanni Verga (1880) and the opera by Pietro Mascagni; the cinematography 
was by Karl Struss and Riccardo Pallottini; the design was by Gastone Medin; 



206 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

the music was by Oliviero De Fabritiis; and the editor was Rolando Benedetti. 
Cast: Anthony Quinn (Alfio), Kerima (Lola), May Britt (Santuzza), Ettore 
Manni (Turiddu), Umberto Spadaro (Uncle Brasi), Grazia Spadaro (Aunt 
Camilla), Virginia Balestrieri (Mamma Lucia), Tito Gobbi (Voice). 

Cenere 
(Ashes), 1916 

Credits prod.: Ambrosio Film, Turin/Cines, Rome; dir.: Febo Mari, Arturo 
Ambrosio, Jr.; se: Febo Mari and Eleonora Duse, from the novel by 
Grazia Deledda (1904); cin.: Pietro Marelli. 

Cast Eleonora Duse (Rosalia), Febo Mari (Anania), Ettore Casarotti, 
Carmen Casarotti, and Ilda Sibiglia (The Children). 

Sole 

(Sun), 1929 

Credits prod.: S. A. Augustus, Rome; dir.: Alessandro Blasetti; se: Alessandro 
Blasetti, Aldo Vergano; adapt.: Alessandro Blasetti, Aldo Vergano; 
cin.: Giuseppe Caracciolo, with the collaboration of Carlo Montuori, 
Giorgi Orsini, and Giulio De Luca; mus.: Mario De Risi; ed.: 
Alessandro Blasetti. 

Cast Marcello Spada (The Engineer, Rinaldi), Vasco Creti (Marco), Dria 
Paolo (Giovanna), Vittorio Vaser (Silvestro), Lia Bosco (Barbara), 
Anna Vinci, Rolando Costantino, Rinaldo Rinaldi, Igino Muzio. 

Note: Sole was destroyed during World War II except for surviving still 

photographs. 

Rotaie 
(Rails), 1931 

Credits prod.: SACIA; dir.: Mario Camerini; sc.: Corrado D'Errico; adapt.: 
Umberto Torri, Mario Camerini; cin.: Ubaldo Arata; des.: Umberto 
Torri, with the collaboration of Vittorio Cafiero, Angelo Canevari, 
and Daniele Crespi; mus.: Marcello Lattes. 

Cast Kåthe von Nagy (The Girl), Maurizio DAncora (The Young Man), 
Daniele Crespi (Passenger on the Train), Aldo Moschino (aka 
Giacomo Moschini) (Frequenter of the Casino), Pia Carolo Lotti 
(His Female Companion), Guido Celano. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



207 



Campane d'Italia 

(documentary) 

(The Bells of Italy), 1932 

Credits dir.: Mario Serandrei. 

La tavola dei poveri 

(The Table of the Poor), 1932 

Credits prod.: Cines (Carlo J. Bassoli); dir.: Alessandro Blasetti; se: Raffaele 
Viviani and Mario Soldati; adapt.: Raffaele Viviani, Mario Soldati, 
Emilio Cecchi, Alessandro De Stefani; cin.: Carlo Montuori and 
Giulio De Luca; des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Roberto Caggiano; 
themes by R. Viviani. 

Cast Raffaele Viviani (Marquis Fusaro), Leda Gloria (Giorgina), Salvatore 
Costa (Biase), Marcello Spada (Nello Valmadonna), Mario Ferrari 
(The Lawyer Volterra), Vincenzo Flocco (Mezzapalla), Armida 
Cozzolino (Madam Lida Valmadonna), Lina Bacci (Committee 
Secretary), Cesare Zoppetti (The Professor), Vasco Creti (Servant 
to the Marquis Fusaro), Renato Navarrini. 

Acciaio 
(Steel), 1933 

Credits prod.: Cines; dir.: Walter Ruttmann; se: from Luigi Pirandellos 
original script Play, Pietro!; adapt.: Walter Ruttmann, Mario 
Soldati, Emilio Cecchi; cin.: Massimo Terzano, Domenico Scala; 
des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Gian Francesco Malipiero; ed.: Walter 
Ruttmann, Giuseppe Fatigati. 

Cast Isa Pola (Gina), Piero Pastore (Mario), Vittorio Bellaccini (Pietro), 
Alfredo Polveroni (His Father), Romolo Costa, Domenico Serra. 

T'amer6 sempre 

(I Will Always Love You), 1933 

Credits prod.: Cines (Carlo J. Bassoli); dir.: Mario Camerini; se: Mario 
Camerini; adapt.: Ivo Perilli and Guglielmo Alberti; cin.: Ubaldo 
Arata; des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Ezio Carabella; ed.: Fernando 
Tropea. 

Cast Elsa De Giorgi (Adriana), Nino Besozzi (Mario Fabbrini), Mino 
Doro (The Count), Roberto Pizani, Pina Renzi, Nora Dani, Loris 
Gizzi, Giacomo Moschini, Maria Persico, Claudio Ermelli, Giancarlo 
Cappelli. 

Note: Tamerd sempre was remade in 1943. It was once again produced by 



208 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Cines and directed by Mario Camerini; the scenario was by Sergio Amidei 
and Mario Camerini; the cinematography was by Arturo Gallea; the design 
was by Gastone Medin; and the music was by Ezio Carabella. Among the 
actors were Alida Valli (Adriana), Gino Cervi (The Boy Faustini), Antonio 
Centa (Diego), Jules Berry (Oscar), Tina Lattanzi, and Loris Gizzi. 

Ragazzo 
(Kid), 1933 

Credits prod.: Cines (Carlo J. Bassoli); dir.: Ivo Perilli; se: Sandro De 
Feo; adapt.: Ivo Perilli and Emilio Cecchi; tin.: Massimo Terzano, 
Domenico Scala; des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Luigi Colacicchi. 

Cast Isa Pola, Costantino Frasca, Giovanna Scotto, Anna Vinci, Osvaldo 
Valenti, Marcello Martire, Aristide Garbini. 

Come le foglie 

(Like the Leaves), 1934 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
Italiane)/Roberto Dan di; dir.: Mario Camerini; se: from the comedy 
by Giuseppe Giacosa; adapt.: Ivo Perilli and Ercole Patti; tin.: 
Massimo Terzano; des.: Guido Fiorini; mus.: Ezio Carabella; ed.: 
Fernando Tropea. 

Cast Isa Miranda (Nennele), Mimi Aylmer (Giulia), Nino Besozzi 
(Massimo), Ernesto Sabbatini (Giovanni Rosani), Cesare Bettarini 
(Tommy), Achille Majeroni (A Friend of the Rosani Family). 

1860 
1934 

Credits prod.: Cines; dir: Alessandro Blasetti; sc.: from a story by Gino 
Mazzucchi; adapt.: Alessandro Blasetti, Gino Mazzucchi; tin.: 
Anchise Brizzi, Giulio De Luca; des.: Vittorio Cafiero, Angelo 
Canevari; cos.: Vittorio Nino Novarese; mus.: Nino Medin; ed.: 
Ignazio Ferronetti, Alessandro Blasetti. 

Cast Aida Bellia (Gesuzza), Gianfranco Giachetti (Costanzo), Otello 
Toso, Maria Denis, Giuseppe Gulino (Carmeliddu), Laura Nucci, 
Mario Ferrari (Col. Carini), Toto Majorana, Cesare Zoppetti, Vasco 
Creti, Ugo Gracci, Umberto Sacripante, Amedeo Trilli, Arnaldo 
Baldaccini, Arcangelo Aversa, Aldo Frosi, Nais Lago. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



209 



Il grande appello 

(The Last Roll Call; The Great Call; A Call to Arms), 1936 

Credits prod.: Artisti Associati (Roberto Dandi); dir.: Mario Camerini; se: 

Mario Camerini; adapt.: Mario Camerini, Ercole Patti, Piero Solari, 

Mario Soldati; rin.: Massimo Terzano, Ferdinando Martini; des.: 

Gino Franzi; mus.: Annibale Bizzelli. 
Cast Camillo Pilotto (Giovanni Bertani), Roberto Villa (Enrico), Lina Da 

Costa, Guglielmo Sinaz, Lina DAcosta, Pietro Valdes, Enrico Poggi, 

Nino Marchetti, Angelo Pelliccioni. 

Pianto delle zittelle 
(documentary) 

{The CryingofOldMaids), 1939 
Credits dir.: Giacomo Pozzi Bellini. 

Addio giovinezza! 
(Farewell, Youth!), 1940 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
Italiane)-SAFIC/Giacomo Giannuzzi; dir.: Ferdinando Maria 
Poggioli; se: from the comedy by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia 
(1911); adapt.: Salvator Gotta and Ferdinando Maria Poggioli; cin.: 
Carlo Montuori; des.: Gastone Medin; cos.: Gino Sensani; mus.: 
Giuseppe Blanc; ed.: Ferdinando Maria Poggioli. 
Cast Maria Denis (Dorina), Clara Calamai (Elena), Adriano Rimoldi 
(Mario), Carlo Campanini (Leone), Mario Casaleggio, Bella Starace 
Sainati, Bianca Della Corte (Emma), Carlo Minello, Aldo Fiorelli, 
Nuccia Robella, Franca Volpini, Mario Giannini, Paolo Carlini 
(Pino), Umberto Bonsignori, Arturo Bragaglia. 
Note: Addio giovinezza! was first made as a silent film in 1913. It was 
produced by Itala Film (Turin) and directed by Nino Oxilia; the scenario was 
tåken from the comedy by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia (1911). Cast: 
Lidia Quaranta (Dorina), Alessandro Bernard (Leone), Amerigo Manzini, 
Letizia Quaranta. 

Addio giovinezza! was remade as a silent film in 1918 by Augusto Genina. 
Genina then remade it again as a silent film, in 1927. It was produced by Films 
Genina (Rome) and directed by Augusto Genina; the scenario was tåken from 
the comedy by Sandro Camasio and Nino Oxilia (1911), and the adaptation 
was by Augusto Genina and Luciano Doria; the cinematography was by Carlo 
Montuori and Antonio Martini; and the design was by Giulio Folchi. Cast: 
Carmen Boni (Dorina), Walter Slezak (Mario), Elena Sangro (Elena), Augusto 



210 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Bandini (Leone), Piero Cocco (Carlo), Gemma De Ferrari (Marios Mother), 
A. Ricci (Marios Father), Lya Christa. 

L'assedio dell' Alcåzar 

(The Siege of the Alcåzar), 1940 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematogranche 
Italiane)/Carlo J. Bassoli; dir.: Augusto Genina; se: Alessandro 
De Stefani, Augusto Genina, Pietro Caporilli; adapt.: Augusto 
Genina, Alessandro De Stefani; cm.: Jan Stallich, Francesco Izzarelli, 
Vincenzo Seratrice; des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Antonio Veretti; ed.: 
Fernando Tropea. 

Cast Rafael Calvo (Col. Moscardo), Maria Denis (Conchita), Carlos 
Munoz, Mireille Balin (Carmen), Fosco Giachetti (Capt. Vela), 
Andrea Checchi (Pedro), Aldo Fiorelli (Francisco), Silvio Bagolini, 
Carlo Tamberlani, Guido Notari, Guglielmo Sinaz, Giovanni Dal 
Cortivo, Carlo Duse, Eugenio Duse, Adele Garavaglia, Oreste Fares, 
Carlo Bressan, Nino Crisman, Vasco Creti, Angelo Dessy, Anita 
Farra, Nino Marchesini, Cesare Polacco, Checco Rissone, Ugo 
Sasso. 

Piccolo mondo antico 

(Little Old-Fashioned World; The Little World of the Past), 1940 
Credits prod.: ATA/ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
Italiane); dir.: Mario Soldati; se: from the novel by Antonio 
Fogazzaro (part of a trilogy that includes Malombra); adapt.: Mario 
Bonfantini, Emilio Cecchi, Alberto Lattuada, Mario Soldati; rin.: 
Carlo Montuori, Arturo Gallea; des.: Gastone Medin, Ascanio 
Coccé; cos.: Maria De Matteis and Gino Sensani; mus.: Enzo 
Masetti; ed.: Gisa Radicchi Levi. 
Cast Alida Valli (Luisa), Massimo Serato (Franco), Ada Dondini 
(The Marquise), Annibale Betrone (Uncle Piero), Mariu Pascoli 
(Ombretta), Giacinto Molteni (Gilardoni), Elvira Bonecchi 
(Barborin), Enzo Biliotti (Pasotti), Renato Cialente (Greisberg), 
Adele Garavaglia (Mamma Teresa), Carlo Tamberlani (Don 
Costa), Giovanni Barrella (The Curate of Puria), Nino Marchetti 
(Pedraglio), Giorgio Costantini (The Lawyer from Varenna), Jone 
Morino (Donna Eugenia), Anna Carena (Carlotta), Domenico 
Viglione Borghese (Dino). 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



211 



Fari nella nebbia 
(Headlights in the Fog), 1941 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
italiane)-Fauno Film/Giampaolo Bigazzi; dir.: Gianni Franciolini; 
se: Rinaldo Dal Fabbro, O. Gasperini, Giuseppe Mangione, Alberto 
Pozzetti; adapt.: Corrado Alvaro, Edoardo Anton, Giuseppe Zucca; 
cin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: Gastone Medin; mus.: Enzo Masetti; ed.: 
Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Fosco Giachetti (Cesare), Luisa Ferida (Piera), Mariella Lotti 
(Anna), Antonio Centa (Carlo), Mario Siletti, Lauro Gazzolo, 
Carlo Lombardi, Nelli Corradi, Dhia Cristiani, Lia Orlandini, Piero 
Pastore (A Mechanic), Arturo Bragaglia (A Cobbler). 

La corona di ferro 

(The Iron Crown; Crown oflron), 1941 

Credits prod.: ENIC (Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche)/Lux 
Film; dir.: Alessandro Blasetti; se: Alessandro Blasetti, Renato 
Castellani; adapt.: Corrado Pavolini, Renato Castellani, Alessandro 
Blasetti, Guglielmo Zorzi, Giuseppe Zucca; cin.: Vaclav Vich, Mario 
Craveri; des.: Virgilio Marchi; cos.: Gino Sensani; mus.: Alessandro 
Cicognini; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Elisa Cegani (Elsa), Luisa Ferida (Tundra), Gino Cervi, Massimo 
Girotti (Arminio), Osvaldo Valenti, Rina Morelli, Dina Perbellini, 
Paolo Stoppa, Ugo Sasso, Primo Carnera, Adele Garavaglia. 

La nave bianca 

(The White Ship), 1941 

Credits prod.: Scalera/Centro Cinematografico del Ministero della Marina; 

dir.: Roberto Rossellini; se: Francesco De Robertis; adapt.: Francesco 
De Robertis, Roberto Rossellini; cin.: Giuseppe Caracciolo; des.: 
Amleto Bonetti; mus.: Renzo Rossellini; ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 

Cast nonprofessionals. 

Un colpo di pistola 
(The Pistol Shot), 1941 

Credits prod.: Lux Film; dir.: Renato Castellani; se: from the story by 
Pushkin in The Tales of Belkin; adapt.: Mario Bonfantini, Renato 
Castellani, Corrado Pavolini, Mario Soldati; cin.: Massimo Terzano; 
des.: Gastone Medin, Nicola Benois; cos.: Maria De Matteis; mus.: 
Vincenzo Tommasini; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 



212 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

Cast Assia Norris (Mascia), Fosco Giachetti (Andrea), Antonio Centa 
(Sergio), Ruby Dalma (Mascias Aunt), Renato Cialente, Mimi 
Dugini. 

Uomini sul fondo 

(S.O.S. Submarine; S.O.S. 103; Men on the Bottom; Men Under the Sea), 
1941 

Credits prod.: Scalera/Centro Cinematografico del Ministero della Marina; 

dir.: Francesco De Robertis; sc. and adapt.: Francesco De Robertis, 
with the collaboration of Ivo Perilli and Giorgio Bianchi; cin.: 
Giuseppe Caracciolo; des.: Amleto Bonetti; mus.: Edgardo Carducci- 
Agustini; ed.: Francesco De Robertis, with the collaboration of Ivo 
Perilli and Giorgio Bianchi. 

Cast nonprofessionals. 

Comacchio 

(documentary) 

1942 

Credits dir.: Fernando Cerchio. 

Giacomo L'idealista 
(Giacomo the Idealist), 1942 

Credits prod.: ATA; dir.: Alberto Lattuada; sc: from the novel by Emilio 
De Marchi; adapt.: Emilio Cecchi, Aldo Buzzi, Alberto Lattuada; 
cin.: Carlo Nebiolo; des.: Fulvio Paoli (aka Fulvio Jacchia), Ascanio 
Coccé; cos.: Gino Sensani; mus.: Felice Lattuada. 

Cast Massimo Serato (Giacomo), Marina Berti (Celestina), Andrea 
Checchi (Giacinto), Tina Lattanzi (His Mother), Armando Migliari, 
Giacinto Molteni (The Count), Domenico Viglione Borghese, 
Roldano Lupi, Giulio Tempesti, Paolo Bonecchi, Silvia Melandri, 
Dina Romano, Giselda Gasperini, Nelly Morgan, Piero Palermini, 
Elvira Bonecchi, Adele Baratelli, Felice Minotti, Attilio Dottesio, F. 
M. Costa. 

Malombra 

(The Woman), 1942 

Credits prod.: Lux Film; dir.: Mario Soldati; sc: from the novel by Antonio 
Fogazzaro (part of a trilogy that includes Piccolo mondo antico); 
adapt.: Mario Bonfanti, Renato Castellani, Ettore M. Margadonna, 
Tino Richelmy, Mario Soldati; cin.: Massimo Terzano; des.: Gastone 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 213 

Medin; cos.: Maria De Matteis; mus.: Giuseppe Rosati; ed.: Gisa 
Radicchi Levi. 

Cast Isa Miranda (Marina di Malombra), Irasema Dilian (Edith), Andrea 
Checchi (Corrado Silla), Gualtiero Tumiati (Count Cesare), Nino 
Crisman (Nepo Salvador), Enzo Biliotti (Vezza), Giacinto Molteni 
(Steinegge), Ada Dondini (Fosca Salvador), Nando Tamberlani 
(Don Innocenzo), Corrado Racca (The Friår), Luigi Pavese, Doretta 
Sestan (Fanny), Paolo Bonecchi, Giovanni Barrella, Giacomo 
Moschini. 

Ossessione 
{Obsession), 1942 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
Italiane)-Rome/Libero Solaroli; dir.: Luchino Visconti; se: from the 
novel The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), by James M. Cain 
(uncredited); adapt.: Mario Alicata, Antonio Pietrangeli, Gianni 
Puccini, Giuseppe De Santis, Luchino Visconti, Rosario Assunto; 
cin.: Aldo Tonti, Domenico Scala; des.: Gino Franzi, Ferrare and 
Ancone; cos.: Maria De Matteis; mus.: Giuseppe Rosati; ed.: Mario 
Serandrei. 

Cast Dhia Cristiani (The Dancer, Anita), Elio Marcuzzo (The Spaniard), 
Vittorio Duse (The Truck Driver/Undercover Policeman), Clara 
Calamai (Giovanna Bragana), Massimo Girotti (Gino Costa), Juan 
De Landa (Giovannas Husband, Giuseppe Bragana), Michele Sakara 
(The Child), Michele Riccardini (Don Remigio). 

Quattro passi fra le nuvole 

(Four Steps in the Clouds; A Walk Among the Clouds), 1942 
Credits prod.: ENIC (Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche)-Cines/ 
Giuseppe Amato; dir.: Alessandro Blasetti; se: Cesare Zavattini, 
Piero Tellini; adapt.: Cesare Zavattini, Piero Tellini, Giuseppe 
Amato, Aldo De Benedetti, Alessandro Blasetti; cin.: Vaclav Vich; 
des.: Virgilio Marchi; mus.: Alessandro Cicognini; ed.: Mario 
Serandrei. 

Cast Gino Cervi (Paolo), Adriana Benetti (Maria), Aldo Silvani, Giacinto 
Molteni, Guido Celano, Giuditta Rissone (Clara), Enrico Viarisio, 
Carlo Romano (The Chauffeur), Lauro Gazzolo, Silvio Bagolini, 
Margherita Seglin, Mario Siletti, Oreste Bilanda, Gildo Bocci, 
Arturo Bragaglia, Anna Carena, Pina Gallini, Luciano Manara, 
Armando Migliari, Umberto Sacripante. 



214 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Sissignora 

(Yes, Ma'am), 1942 

Credits prod.: ICI (La Societå Anonima Industrie Cinematografiche 
Italiane)-ATA/ Clemente Fracassi and Libero Solaroli; dir.: 
Ferdinando Maria Poggioli; se: Anna Banti, Emilio Cecchi, Bruno 
Fallad, Alberto Lattuada, and Ferdinando Maria Poggioli, from 
the novel Sissignora, by Flavia Steno; adapt.: Emilio Cecchi and 
Alberto Lattuada; cin.: Carlo Montuori; des.: Fulvio Paoli (aka 
Fulvio Jacchia); cos.: Maria De Matteis; mus.: Felice Lattuada; ed.: 
Ferdinando Maria Poggioli. 

Cast Emma Gramatica (Lucia Robbiano), Irma Gramatica (Anna 
Robbiano), Maria Denis (Cristina), Evi Maltagliati (Signora 
Val data), Rina Morelli (Sister Valeria), Leonardo Cortese (Vittorio), 
Dhia Cristiani (Paolina), Jone Salinas (Enrichetta), Dora Bini, Anna 
Carena, Elio Marcuzzo (Emilio), Roldano Lupi, Giovanni Grasso, 
Silverio Pisu (The Valdata child), Guido Notari (The Doctor), 
Federico Collino (The Butler). 

Gente del Po 
(documentary) 

(People of the Po River), 1941-47 

Credits prod.: Artisti Associati/I.C.E.T.-Carpi (Milan); dir: Michelangelo 
Antonioni; se: Michelangelo Antonioni; cin.: Piero Portalupi; mus.: 
Mario Labroca; ed.: Carlo Alberto Chiesa. 
Note: The final version was edited in 1947 from barely half the original 
footage, which was lost or destroyed during the last years of the war. 

I bambini ci guardano 

(The Children Are Watching Us; The Little Martyr), 1943 

Credits prod.: Scalera Film-Invicta Production; prod. dir: Franco Magli; 

dir: Vittorio De Sica; Assistants to the director: Paolo Moffa, Luisa 
Alessandri, LidiaC. Ripandelli, Vittorio Cottafavi; sc. andadapt. : Viola, 
Cesare Zavattini, Margherita Maglione, Adolfo Franci, Gherardo 
Gherardi, and De Sica, from Cesare Giulio Violas novel Pricb (1928); 
Photography: Giuseppe Caracciolo; des.: Amleto Bonetti; Set design: 
Vittorio Valentini; Editor: Mario Bonotti; Sound: Tullio Parmegiani; 
mus.: Renzo Rossellini; Released: Italy: late 1943, 1944, 1945 (release 
interrupted by war); new edition: 1950; U.S.: New York, 1947, as The 
Little Martyr; Running time: 85 minutes; Distributor: Scalera Film; 
Filmed at Scalera Studio, Rome, and Alassio, late 1942 to early 1943. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 215 

Cast Luciano De Ambrosis (Prico), Isa Pola (his mother, Ines), Emilio 
Cigoli (his father, Andrea), Adriano Rimoldi (Roberto), Giovanna 
Cigoli (Agnese), lone Frigerio (the grandmother), Maria Gardena 
(Signora Uberti), Dina Perbellini (Zia Berelli), Nicoletta Parodi 
(Giuliana), Tecla Scarano (Signora Resta), Olinta Cristina (the 
school director), Mario Gallina (the doctor), Zaira La Fratta 
(Paolina), Armando Migliari, Guido Morisi, Achille Majeroni, 
Augusto Di Giovanni, Luigi A. Garrone, Agnese Dubbini, Aristide 
Garbini, Rita Livesi, Lina Marengo, Riccardo Fellini, Claudia Marti, 
Gino Viotti, Carlo Ranieri, Vasco Creti, Giulio Alfieri, Giovanna 
Ralli, Gabrielli the Magician. 

Sorelle Materassi 

(The Mater assi Sisters), 1943 

Credits prod.: ENIC (Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche)-Cines/ 
Sandro Ghenzi; dir.: Ferdinando Maria Poggioli; se: Bernard 
Zimmer, from the novel by Aldo Palazzeschi; adapt.: Bernard 
Zimmer; rin.: Arturo Gallea; des.: Gastone Simonetti; cos.: Gino 
Sensani; mus.: Enzo Masetti; ed.: Ferdinando Maria Poggioli. 

Cast Pietro Bigerna (The Moneylender), Paola Borboni (The Russian 
Woman), Margherita Bossi (The Butchers Wife), Clara Calamai 
(Peggy), Loris Gizzi (The Priest), Emma Gramatica (Carolina), 
Irma Gramatica (Teresa), Anna Mari (Laurina), Leo Melchiorri 
(Otello), Dina Romano (Niobe), Massimo Serato (Remo), Olga 
Solbelli (Giselda). 



La nostra guerra 
(documentary) 
(Our War), 1944 

Credits prod.: Sezione cinematografica Stato maggiore esercito; dir.: Alberto 
Lattuada. 



Aldo dice 26 X 1 

(documentary) 

(Aldo's Saying), 1945 

Credits dir.: Fernando Cerchio. 



216 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Giorni di gloria 
(documentary) 
(Days of Glory), 1945 

Credits prod.: Titanus-A.N.P.I.-Psychological Warfare Branch of the 
United States Army/Fulvio Ricci; dir.: Giuseppe De Santis and 
Mario Serandrei, in collaboration with Marcello Pagliero (dir. of 
the episode in the Ardeatine Caves) and Luchino Visconti (dir. of 
the lynching of Carretta and the Caruso trial); sc. and adapt.: Mario 
Serandrei, with commentary written by Umberto Calosso and 
Umberto Barbaro, and spoken by Calosso; tin.: Giovanni Pucci and 
Massimo Terzano, with documentary footage from Della Valle, De 
West, Di Venanzo, Jannarelli, Lastricati, Navarro, Reed, Ventimiglia, 
Werdier, Vittoriano, Manlio, Caloz, and technicians of the CLN in 
Milan; mus.: Costantino Ferri; ed.: Mario Serandrei, Carlo Alberto 
Chiesa. 

La vita ricomincia 
(Life Begins Again), 1945 

Credits prod.: Excelsa Film; dir.: Mario Mattoli; sc. and adapt.: Aldo De 

Benedetti, Mario Mattoli, and Steno. 
Cast Fosco Giachetti, Alida Valli, Eduardo De Filippo. 

O' sole mio 
(Oh,MySun), 1945 

Credits prod.: Rinascimento; dir.: Giacomo Gentil omo; sc: Mario Amendola 

and Vincenzo Rovi; adapt.: Akos Tolnay, Mario Sequi, Gaspare 

Cataldo; tin.: Anchise Brizzi. 
Cast Tito Gobbi, Adriana Benetti, Vera Carmi, Carlo Ninchi, Ernesto 

Almirante, Vittorio Caprioli, Lilly Granado, Arnoldo Foå, Salvatore 

Cuffaro. 

Roma, cittå aperta 

(Open City; Rome, Open City), 1945 

Credits prod.: Excelsa Film; dir.: Roberto Rossellini; sc: Sergio Amidei, 
Alberto Consiglio; adapt.: Sergio Amidei, Federico Fellini, Roberto 
Rossellini; tin.: Ubaldo Arata; des.: R. Megna; mus.: Renzo Rossellini; 
ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 

Cast Anna Magnani (Pina), Aldo Fabrizi (Don Pietro Pellegrini), 
Marcello Pagliero (Giorgio Manfredi, alias Luigi Ferrari), Harry 
Feist (Major Bergmann), Maria Michi (Marina Mari), Francesco 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



217 



Grandjacquet (Francesco, the Typist), Giovanna Galletti (Ingrid), 
Vito Annichiarico (Marcello, Pinas Son), Carla Rovere (Lauretta, 
Pinas Sister), Nando Bruno (Agostino), Carlo Sindici (Roman 
Police Chief), Joop van Hulzen (Hartmann), Akos Tolnay (The 
Austrian Deserter), Eduardo Passarelli (Police Officer), Amalia 
Pellegrini (The Landlady), Alberto Tavazzi (A Priest), C. Giudici. 

Bambini in cittå 

(documentary) 

{Children of the City), 1946 

Credits prod.: Gigi Martello; dir.: Luigi Comencini, with narration by Mario 
Amerio; cin.: Plinio Novelli. 

Davanti a Lui tremava tutta Roma 
(Befare Hint All Rome Trembled), 1946 

Credits prod.: Excelsa Film; dir.: Carmine Gallone; se: Carmine Gallone; 

adapt.: Gherardo Gherardi, Carmine Gallone, Gaspare Cataldo; 

cin.: Anchise Brizzi. 
Cast Anna Magnani, Tito Gobbi, Gino Sinimberghi, Edda Albertini, 

Varni. 

Il bandito 
(TheBandit), 1946 

Credits prod.: Lux-R.D.L. (Dino De Laurentiis); dir.: Alberto Lattuada; se: 
Alberto Lattuada; adapt.: Oreste Biåncoli, Mino Caudana, Alberto 
Lattuada, Ettore M. Margadonna, Tullio Pinelli, Piero Tellini; cin.: 
Aldo Tonti; des.: Luigi Borzone; mus.: Felice Lattuada. 

Cast Amedeo Nazzari (Ernesto), Anna Magnani (Lydia), Carla del Poggio 
(Maria), Carlo Campanini (Carlo), Eliana Banducci (Rosetta), 
Mino Doro (Mirko), Folco Lulli (Andrea), Mario Perrone (The 
Hunchback), Gianni Appelius (Signorina), Thea Ajmaretti (The 
Landlady), Amato Garbini (The Landowner), Ruggero Madrigali 
(The Slavetrader). 

Io t'ho incontrata a Napoli 
(To Meet in Naples), 1946 

Credits prod.: EDI Film; dir.: Piero Francisci; se: John Ford and Evelina 
Levi; adapt.: Piero Francisci and Morbelli; cin.: Augusto Tiezzi. 

Cast Anna Nievo, Leo Dale, Peppino De Filippo, Giuseppe Porelli, 
Claudio Gora, Paolo Stoppa. 



218 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Montecassino 
1946 

Credits prod.: Pastor; dir.: Arturo Gemmiti; se: Arturo Gemmiti; adapt.: 
Arturo Gemmiti, Giovanni Paolucci, Virgilio Sabel; cin.: Vittorio 
Solito. 

Cast Zora Piazza, Piero Bigerna, Pietro Germi, Fosca Freda, Ubaldo Lay, 
Vira Salenti. 

Paiså 

(Paisan), 1946 

Credits prod.: Organization Films International (O.F.I.; Mario Conti and 
Rod E. Geiger) in collaboration with Foreign Film Productions, 
Inc.; dir.: Roberto Rossellini; se: Sergio Amidei, with the collabo- 
ration of Roberto Rossellini, Marcello Pagliero, Federico Fellini, 
Klaus Mann, Alfred Hayes, Vasco Pratolini, Victor Haines; adapt.: 
Sergio Amidei, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, with English 
dialogue by Annalena Limentani; cin.: Otello Martelli; mus.: Renzo 
Rossellini; ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 

Cast Sicily — Carmela Sazio (Carmela), Robert van Loon (Joe from 
Jersey), Benjamin Emmanuel, Raymond Campbell, Albert Heinz, 
Harold Wagner, Merlin Berth, Leonard Parrish, Mats Carlson 
(Soldier), Carlo Piscane (Peasant); Naples — Dots M. Johnson (The 
Negro M.P), Alfonsino Pasca (The Little Boy); Rome — Gar Moore 
(Fred, the Soldier), Maria Michi (Francesca); Florence — Harriet 
White (Harriet, the Nurse), Renzo Avanzo (Massimo); Franciscan 
Convent— Bill Tubbs (Captain Bill Martin, the Catholic Chaplain) 
and Franciscan monks; Po Delta — Dale Edmonds (Dale, the 
OSS Man), Cigolani (The Partisan), Allan Dan, Van Loel. Plus— 
Marcello Pagliero, Vito Chiari, M. Hugo, Anthony La Penna, Gigi 
Gori, Lorena Berg. 

Sciusciå 

(Shoeshine), 1946 

Credits prod.: Paolo William Tamburella (for Societå Cooperativa Alfa 
Cinematografica); prod. dir: Nino Ottavi; Assistant producer: 
Franco Serino; dir: Vittorio De Sica; Assistant directors: Umberto 
Scarpelli, Armando W. Tamburella, Argi Rovelli, Elmo De Sica; se: 
Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio De Sica, Sergio Amidei, Adolfo Franci, 
and Cesare Giulio Viola; Photography: Anchise Brizzi; Cameraman: 
Elio Paccara; des.: Ivo Battelli, with Giulio Lombardozzi (sets); 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 219 

Editor: Nicolo Lazzari; Sound: Tullio Parmegiani; mus.: Alessandro 
Cicognini; theme: variations on a childrens song, "Girogirotondo"; 
Released: Italy: April 1946; U.S.: Fifth Avenue Playhouse, New York, 
26 August 1947; Running Time: 93 minutes; Distributor: ENIC (Ente 
Nazionale Industrie Cinematogranche)/Lopert (UA); Filmed on 
location in Rome and at Scalera Film Studio, Rome, January to April 
1946. 

Cast Rinaldo Smordoni (Giuseppe), Franco Interlenghi (Pasquale), 
Aniello Mele (Raffaele), Bruno Oretensi (Arcangeli), Emilio Cigoli 
(StarTera),GinoSaltamerenda("Ilpanza"),AnnaPedoni(Nannarella), 
Enrico De Silva (Giorgio), Antonio Lo Nigro (Righetto), Angelo 
DAmico (the Sicilian), Antonio Carlino (The Abruzzese), Francesco 
De Nicola (Ciriola), Pacifico Astrologo (Vittorio), Maria Campi 
(the palmist), Leo Garavaglia (the inspector), Giuseppe Spadaro 
(the lawyer Bonavino), Irene Smordoni (Giuseppes mother), 
Antonio Nicotra (Bartoli, the social worker), Claudio Ermelli (the 
orderly at the prison infirmary), Guido Gentili (Attilio), Mario 
Volpicelli (prison warden), Armando Furlai, Leonardo Bragaglia, 
Tony Amendola, Edmondo Costa, Gino Marturano, Edmondo 
Zappacarta, Achille Ponzi, Piero Carini, Mario Del Monte Jr., Mario 
Jafrati. 

Un giorno nella vita 

(A Bay in the Life; A Day of Life), 1946 

Credits prod.: Orbis Film; dir.: Alessandro Blasetti; se: Alessandro Blasetti, 
Cesare Zavattini; adapt.: Alessandro Blasetti, Cesare Zavattini, 
Mario Chiari, Anton Giulio Majano, Diego Fabbri; rin.: Mario 
Craveri; des.: Salvo DAngelo; mus.: Enzo Masetti; ed.: Gisa Radicchi 
Levi. 

Cast Amedeo Nazzari, Massimo Girotti, Mariella Lotti, Elisa Cegani, 
Dina Sassoli, Ave Ninchi, Ada Dondini, Arnoldo Foå, Dånte Maggio. 

Vivere in pace 

(To Live in Peace), 1946 

Credits prod.: Lux Film-Pao (Carlo Ponti); dir: Luigi Zampa; sc. and adapt.: 
Suso Cecchi DAmico, Aldo Fabrizi, Piero Tellini, Luigi Zampa; cin.: 
Carlo Montuori and Mario Montuori; des.: Ivo Battelli; mus.: Nino 
Rota. 

Cast Aldo Fabrizi (Uncle Tigna), Gar Moore (Ronald), Mirella Monti 
(Silvia), John Kitzmiller (Joe), Heinrich Bode (Hans), Ave Ninchi 



220 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

(Corinna), Ernesto Almirante (The Grandfather), Nando Bruno 
(The Party Secretary), Aldo Silvani (The Doctor), Gino Cavalieri 
(The Priest), Piero Palermini (Franco), Franco Serpilli (Citta). 

Caccia tragica 

(Tragic Bunt; Pursuit), 1947 

Credits prod.: A.N.P.I. (G. Giorgi Agliani); dir.: Giuseppe De Santis; sc: 
Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Lamberto Rem Picci; adapt.: 
Umberto Barbaro, Michelangelo Antonioni, Carlo Lizzani, 
Giuseppe De Santis, Cesare Zavattini, Corrado Alvaro, Ennio De 
Concini, Gianni Puccini; cin.: Otello Martelli; des.: Carlo Egidi; 
mus.: Giuseppe Rosati; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Vivi Gioi (Daniela), Andrea Checchi (Alberto), Carla del Poggio 
(Giovanna), Vittorio Duse (Giuseppe), Massimo Girotti (Michele), 
Checco Rissone (Mimi), Guido Dalla Valle (The German), Folco 
Lulli, Piero Lulli, Michele Riccardini, Ermano Randi, Eugenia 
Grandi, Umberto Sacripante, Antonio Nediani. 

Come persi la guerra 
(HowILostthe War), 1947 

Credits prod.: Lux Film-R.D.L.; dir.: Carlo Borghesio; sc.: Carlo Borghesio, 
Benvenuti, Giannini; adapt.: Mario Amendola, Steno, Monicelli, 
Tullio Pinelli, Carlo Borghesio; cin.: Aldo Tonti. 

Cast Erminio Macario, Vera Carmi, Nando Bruno, Carlo Campanini, 
Folco Lulli, Piero Lulli, Nunzio Filogamo, Fritz Marlat, Aldo Tonti. 

Germania, anno zero 
{Germany, Year Zero), 1947 

Credits prod.: Tevere Film (Alfredo Guarini, Roberto Rossellini)-Salvo 
DAngelo Production (Rome)-Sadfi (Berlin)-UGC (Paris); dir.: 
Roberto Rossellini; sc. : Roberto Rossellini; adapt. : Roberto Rossellini, 
Max Kolpet, Carlo Lizzani; cin.: Robert Juillard; des.: Piero Filippone; 
mus.: Renzo Rossellini; ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 

Cast Edmund Moeschke (Edmund), Werner Pittschau (Edmunds 
Father), Ingetraut Hintze (Eva, Edmunds Sister), Franz Kriiger 
(Karl-Heinz, Edmunds Brother), Erich Guhne (Edmunds Teacher), 
Barbara Hintz, Alexandra Manys, Babsy Reckvell, Hans Sangen, 
Hedi Blankner, Count Treuberg, Karl Kauger. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



221 



Gioventu perduta 
(Lost Youth), 1947 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Carlo Ponti); dir.: Pietro Germi; se: Pietro Germi; 

adapt.: Pietro Germi, Antonio Pietrangeli, Mario Monicelli, 
Leopoldo Trieste, Enzo Provenzale, Bruno Valeri; cin.: Carlo 
Montuori; des.: Gianni Mazzocca; mus.: Carlo Rustichelli; ed.: 
Renato May. 

Cast Jacques Sernas, Carla Del Poggio, Massimo Girotti, Franca Maresa, 
Diana Borghese, Nando Bruno, Leo Garavaglia, Dino Maronetto, 
Michele Sakara, Ugo Metrailler, Angelo Dessi. 

Il sole sorge ancora 

(The Sun Rises Again), 1947 

Credits prod.: C.V.L.-A.N.P.I./G. Giorgi Agliani; dir.: Aldo Vergano; se: 
Giuseppe Gorgerino (from an idea by Anton Giulio Majano); 
adapt.: Guido Aristarco, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Carlo 
Alberto Felice, Aldo Vergano; cin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: Fausto Galli; 
mus.: Giuseppe Rosati; ed.: Gabriele Varriale. 

Cast Vittorio Duse (Cesare), Elli Parvo (Matilde), Lea Padovani (Laura), 
Massimo Serato (Major Heinrich), Carlo Lizzani (The Priest), 
Marco Sevi, Checco Rissone, Marco Sarri, Riccardo Passani, Gillo 
Pontecorvo, Mirkan Korcinsoi, Ruggerio Giacobbi. 

L'onorevole Angelina 

(The Virtuous Angelina; Angelina), 1947 

Credits prod.: Ora- Lux Film/Paolo Fasca; dir.: Luigi Zampa; sc. and adapt.: 
Piero Tellini, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Luigi Zampa; cin.: Mario 
Craveri; des.: Luigi Gervasi, Piero Filippone; mus.: Enzo Masetti; 
ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 

Cast Anna Magnani (Angelina), Nando Bruno (Pasquale), Gianni Glori 
(Libero), Maria Grazia Francia (Annetta), Anita Angius (Adriane), 
Adalberto Tenaglia (Giuseppe), Ave Ninchi (Carmela), Agnese 
Dubbini (Cesira), Ugo Bertucci (Benedetto), Vittorio Mottini 
(Roberto), Armando Migliari (Callisto), Franco Zeffirelli (Filippo), 
Maria Donati (Signora Garrone), Ernesto Almirante (Luigi), 
Aristide Baghetti, Diego Calcagno. 

Anni difficili 

(Difficult Years; The Little Man), 1948 

Credits prod.: Briguglio Film (Folco Laudati); dir: Luigi Zampa; sc: from 



222 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



the novel The Old Man and His Boots (Il vecchio con gli stivali), 
by Vitaliano Brancati; adapt.: Sergio Amidei, Vitaliano Brancati, 
Franco Evangelisti, Enrico Fulchignoni, Luigi Zampa; rin.: Carlo 
Montuori; des.: Ivo Battelli; mus.: Franco Casavola; ed.: Eraldo Da 
Roma. 

Cast Umberto Spadaro (Aldo Piscitello), Ave Ninchi (Rosina, His Wife), 
Massimo Girotti (Giovanni, Their Son), Odette Bedogni (Elena, 
Their Daughter), The Stefano Twins (The Twin Sons), Ernesto 
Almirante (The Grandfather), Enzo Biliotti (The Fascist Mayor), 
Carletto Sposito (The Mayors Son), Aldo Silvani (The Chemist), 
Milly Vitale (Maria), Giovanni Grasso, Olunto Cristina, Agostino 
Salvietti, Rainero De Cenzo, Giuseppe Nicolosi (The Malcontents). 

Fuga in France 
(Escape to France), 1948 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Carlo Ponti); dir.: Mario Soldati; se: Mario Soldati, 
Carlo Musso; adapt.: Mario Soldati, Carlo Musso, Ennio Flaiano, 
Mario Bonfantini, Tino Richelmy; cin.: Domenico Scala; des.: Piero 
Gherardi; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Mario Bonotti. 

Cast Folco Lulli, Rosi Mirafiore, Mario Vercellone, Enrico Olivieri, Pietro 
Germi, Giovanni Dufour. 

La terra trema 

(The Earth Trembles; The Earth Will Shake), 1948 

Credits prod.: Universalia (Salvo DAngelo); dir.: Luchino Visconti; sc. and 
adapt.: Luchino Visconti (inspired by Giovanni Vergas 1881 novel 
Bad Blood [I Malavoglia]), with commentary written by Visconti 
and Antonio Pietrangeli, and spoken by Mario Pisu; cin.: G. R. Aldo 
(aka Aldo Graziati), Gianni di Venanzo; mus.: Luchino Visconti, 
Willy Ferrero; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Workers and fishermen from Aci Trezza, Sicily (i.e., nonprofes- 
sionals): Antonio Arcidiacono ('Ntoni), Giuseppe Arcidiacono 
(Cola), Giovanni Greco (The Grandfather), Nelluccia Giammona 
(Mara), Agnese Giammona (Lucia), Nicola Castorina (Nicola), 
Rosario Galvagno (Don Salvatore), Lorenzo Valastro (Lorenzo), 
Rosa Costanzo (Nedda). 

Ladri di biciclette 

(The Bicycle Thief; Bicycle Thieves), 1948 

Credits prod.: Vittorio De Sica (for PDS, Produzioni De Sica); prod. dir.: 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 223 

Umberto Scarpelli; Production inspector: Nino Misiano; Production 
secretary: Roberto Moretti; dir.: Vittorio De Sica; Assistant directors: 
Gerardo Guerrieri, Luisa Alessandri; sc.and adapt. : Cesare Zavattini, 
Vittorio De Sica, Oreste Biåncoli, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Adolfo 
Franci, Gherardo Gherardi, and Gerardo Guerrieri, from an original 
story by Zavattini, based on the novel Ladri di biciclette (1946), 
by Luigi Bartolini; Photography: Carlo Montuori; Cameraman: 
Mario Montuori; Art director: Antonio Traverso; Editor: Eraldo Da 
Roma; Sound: Bruno Brunacci; Music: Alessandro Cicognini; Music 
director: Willy Ferrero; Released: Italy: November 1948; U.S.: World 
Theater, New York, 13 December 1949; Running time: 87 minutes; 
Distributør: ENIC/Mayer-Burstyn; Filmed on location in Rome and 
at SAFA Studios, June to August 1948. 
Cast Lamberto Maggiorani (Antonio Ricci), Enzo Staiola (Bruno, his 
son), Lianella Carell (Maria Ricci), Gino Saltamerenda (Baiocco), 
Vittorio Antonucci (the thief), Giulio Chiari (the old man), Elena 
Altieri (the mission patroness), Ida Bracci Dorati (La Santona), 
Michele Sakara (the secretary of the charity), Fausto Guerzoni (the 
amateur actor), Carlo Jachino (the beggar), Massimo Randisi (the 
middle-class boy at the restaurant), Umberto Spadaro, Memmo 
Carotenuto, Nando Bruno, Peppino Spadaro (the police sergeant), 
Mario Meniconi (the garbage man), Checco Rissone (the watchman 
at Vittorio Square), Giulio Battiferri (a citizen who shields the 
real thief), Sergio Leone (a seminarian), Emma Druetti, Giovanni 
Corporale, Eolo Capritti. 

Senza pietå 
(Without Pity), 1948 

Credits prod.: Lux Film; dir: Alberto Lattuada; se: Federico Fellini, Tullio 
Pinelli (from an idea by Ettore M. Margadonna); adapt.: Federico 
Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Alberto Lattuada; rin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: Piero 
Gherardi; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Mario Bonotti. 

Cast Carl del Poggio (Angela), John Kitzmiller (Jerry), Pierre Claudé (Pier 
Luigi), Folco Lulli (Giacomo), Giulietta Masina (Marcella), Lando 
Muzio (The South American Captain), Daniel Jones (Richard), 
Otello Fava (The Dumb Man), Romano Villi (The Bandit), Mario 
Perrone (The Second Bandit), Enza Giovine (Sister Gertrude), 
Armando Libianchi, Max Lancia, Enza Giovine. 



224 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

Sotto il sole di Roma 
(Under the Roman Sun), 1948 

Credits prod.: Universalcine (Sandro Ghenzi); dir.: Renato Castellani; 

sc: Renato Castellani and Fausto Tozzi; adapt.: Renato 
Castellani, Fausto Tozzi, Sergio Amidei, Emilio Cecchi, Ettore 
M. Margadonna; cin.: Domenico Scala; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: 
Jolanda Benvenuti. 

Cast Oscar Blando, Francesco Golisano, Liliana Mancini, and 
nonprofessionals. 

Cielo sulla palude 

(Heaven over the Marshes), 1949 

Credits prod.: Arx Film (Renato and Carlo Bassoli); dir.: Augusto Genina; 

sc. and adapt.: Augusto Genina, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Fausto Tozzi; 
cin.: G. R. Aldo (aka Aldo Graziati); des.: Virgilio Marchi; mus.: 
Antonio Veretti; ed.: Edmondo Lozzi, Otello Colangeli. 

Cast Ines Orsini (Maria Goretti), Mauro Matteucci (Alessandro 
Serenelli), Giovanni Martella (Luigi Goretti), Assunta Radico 
(Assunta Goretti), Francesco Tomalillo (Giovanni Serenelli), Rubi 
Dalma (The Countess), Michele Malaspina (The Count), Domenico 
Viglione Borghese (The Doctor). 

É primavera 

(Springtime in Italy), 1949 

Credits prod.: Universalcine (Sandro Ghenzi); dir.: Renato Castellani; sc. and 
adapt.: Renato Castellani, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Cesare Zavattini; 
cin.: Tino Santoni; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Jolanda Benvenuti. 

Cast Mario Angelotti (Beppe), Elena Varzi (Maria Antonia), Donato 
Donati (Cavallucio), Ettore Janetti (The Lawyer Di Salvo), Grazia 
Idonea (Signora Di Salvo), Gianni Santi (Albertino Di Salvo), Irene 
Genna (Lucia), Adia Giannini (Portinaia). 

Il mulino del Po 

(The Mill on the River; The Mill on the Po), 1949 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Carlo Ponti); dir.: Alberto Lattuada; sc: from the 
three-volume novel by Riccardo Bacchelli (published 1938-1945); 
adapt.: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Riccardo Bacchelli, Alberto 
Lattuada, Mario Bonfantini, Carlo Musso, Sergio Romano, Luigi 
Comencini; cin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: Aldo Buzzi; mus.: Ildebrando 
Pizzetti; ed.: Mario Bonotti. 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



225 



Cast Carla del Poggio (Berta), Jacques Sernas (Orbino), Leda Gloria (La 
Suiza), Dina Sassoli (Susanna), Guilio Cali (Smarazzacucco), Anna 
Carena (LArgia), Giacomo Giuradei (Princivale), Nino Pavese 
(Raibolini), Domenico Viglione Borghese (Luca), Isabella Riva 
(Cecilia), Pina Gallini, Mario Besesti. 

In nome della legge 

(In the Name of the Law; Mafia), 1949 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Luigi Rovere); dir.: Pietro Germi; se: Giuseppe 
Mangione (from the novel Lower District Court [Piccola pretura], 
by Giuseppe Loschiavo); adapt.: Aldo Bizzarri, Federico Fellini, 
Pietro Germi, Giuseppe Mangione, Mario Monicelli, Tullio Pinelli, 
Leonida Barboni; cin.: Leonida Barboni; des.: Gino Morici; mus.: 
Carlo Rustichelli; ed.: Rolando Benedetti. 

Cast Massimo Girotti (Guido Schiavi), Jone Salinas (The Baroness), 
Camillo Mastrocinque (The Baron), Charles Vanel (Passalacqua, 
the Mafia Chief), Turi Pandolfini (Don Fifi), Peppino Spadaro (The 
Lawyer), Saro Urzi (The Police Sergeant), Ignazio Balsamo (Ciccio 
Messana), Saro Arcidiacono (The Clerk of the Court), Nanda De 
Santis (Lorenzina), Nadia Niver (Vastianedda), Bernardo Indelicato 
(Paolino). 

Riso amaro 
{Bitter Rice), 1949 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Dino De Laurentiis); dir: Giuseppe De Santis; se: 
Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Gianni Puccini; adapt.: Corrado 
Alvaro, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Carlo Musso, Ivo Perilli, 
Gianni Puccini, Franco Monicelli; cin.: Otello Martelli; des.: Carlo 
Egidi; mus.: Goffredo Petrassi; ed.: Gabriele Varriale. 

Cast Raf Vallone (Marco), Silvana Mangano (Silvana), Vittorio Gassman 
(Walter), Doris Dowling (Francesca), Checco Rissone (Aristide), 
Nico Pepe (Beppe), Adriana Sivieri (Celeste), Lia Corelli (Amelia), 
Maria Grazia Francia (Gabriella), Dedi Ristori (Anna), Anna 
Maestri (Irene), Mariemma Bardi (Gianna), Attilio Dottesio. 

Domenica d'agosto 
(Sunday in August), 1950 

Credits prod.: Colonna Film (Sergio Amidei); dir: Luciano Emmer; se: 
Sergio Amidei; adapt.: Franco Brusati, Luciano Emmer, Giulio 
Macchi, Cesare Zavattini, Sergio Amidei; cin.: Domenico Scala, 



226 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

Leonida Barboni, Ubaldo Marelli; mus.: Roman Vlad; ed.: Jolanda 
Benvenuti. 

Cast Anna Baldini (Marcella), Franco Interlenghi (Enrico), Anna Di 
Leo (Yolanda), Massimo Serato (Roberto), Marcello Mastroianni 
(Ercole), Vera Carmi (Adriana), Elvy Lissiak (Luciana), Ave Ninchi 
(FernandaMeloni), Andrea Campagnoni (Cesare Meloni), Fernando 
Milani (Catone), Emilio Cigoli (Mantovani), Pina Malgarini (Ines), 
Anna Medici, Mario Vitale. 

Francesco, giullare di Dio 

{Francis, God's Jester; The Flowers of St. Francis), 1950 

Credits prod.: Cineriz (Angelo Rizzoli, Giuseppe Amato); dir.: Roberto 
Rossellini; se: Roberto Rossellini, from The Little Flowers of St. 
Francis and The Life of Brother Ginepro; adapt.: Roberto Rossellini, 
Federico Fellini, Brunello Rondi, Sergio Amidei, with the collabo- 
ration of Father Felix Morlion and Father Antonio Lisandrini; cin.: 
Otello Martelli; des.: Virgilio Marchi; mus.: Renzo Rossellini; for the 
liturgical songs, Father Enrico Buondonno; ed.: Jolanda Benvenuti. 

Cast Aldo Fabrizi (Nicolaio, the Tyrant), Arabella Lemaitre (Saint Clair), 
and the monks of Nocere Inferiore Monastery, including Brother 
Nazario Gerardi (Saint Francis). 

Il cammino della speranza 

(The Road to Hope; The Path of Hope; The Way to Hope), 1950 
Credits prod.: Lux Film (Luigi Rovere); dir.: Pietro Germi; se: Pietro Germi, 
Federico Fellini, and Tullio Pinelli, from the novel Hearts on the 
Edge (Cuori sugli abissi), by Nino Di Maria; adapt.: Federico Fellini, 
Tullio Pinelli; cin.: Leonida Barboni; des.: Luigi Ricci; mus.: Carlo 
Rustichelli; ed.: Rolando Benedetti. 
Cast Raf Vallone (Saro), Elena Varzi (Barbara), Saro Urzi (Ciccio), 
Saro Arcidiacono (The Accountant), Franco Navarra (Vanni), 
Liliana Lattanzi (Rosa), Mirella Ciotti (Lorenza), Carmela Trovato 
(Cirmena), Assunta Radico (Beatificata), Francesca Russella (The 
Grandmother), Francesco Tomolillo (Misciu), Angelo Grasso 
(Antonio), Giuseppe Priolo (Luca), Paolo Reale (Brasi), Renato 
Terra (Mommino), Giuseppe Cibardo (Turi), Nicolo Gibilaro 
(Nanno), Gino Caizzi, and the Children: Ciccio Coluzzi (Buda), 
Luciana Coluzzi (Luciana), Angelina Scaldaferri (Diodata). 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



227 



Il Cristo proibito 

(Forbidden Christ; Strange Deception), 1950 

Credits prod.: Excelsa Film-Minerva; dir.: Curzio Malaparte; sc. and adapt.: 
Curzio Malaparte; cin.: Gabor Pogany; des.: Leonida Maroulis and 
Orfeo Tamburi; mus.: Curzio Malaparte and Ugo Giacomazzi; ed.: 
Giancarlo Cappelli. 

Cast Raf Vallone (Bruno), Elena Varzi (Nella), Alain Cuny (Master 
Antonio), Rina Morelli (Brunos Mother), Philippe Lemaire (Pinin), 
Anna-Maria Ferrero (Maria), Gualtiero Tumiati (Brunos Father), 
Luigi Tosi (Andrea), Ernesta Rosmino (The Old Woman), Gino 
Cervi (The Hermit), Lianella Carell. 

Nei Mezzogiorno qualcosa é cambiato 
(documentary) 

(Something Has Changed in the South), 1950 
Credits dir.: Carlo Lizzani. 

Non c'é pace tra gli ulivi 

(No Peace among the Olives; Bloody Easter), 1950 

Credits prod.: Lux Film (Domenico Forges Davanzati); dir.: Giuseppe De 
Santis; sc.: Giuseppe De Santis, Gianni Puccini; adapt.: Libero De 
Libero, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Gianni Puccini; cin.: 
Piero Portalupi; des.: Carlo Egidi; mus.: Goffredo Petrassi; ed.: 
Gabriele Varriale. 

Cast Lucia Bosé (Laura), Raf Vallone (Francesco Dominici), Folco 
Lulli (Agostino Bonfiglio), Maria Grazia Francia (Maria Grazia), 
Dånte Maggio (Salvatore Capuano), Michele Riccardini (The Police 
Sergeant), Vincenzo Talarico (The Lawyer). 

Achtung, banditi! 

(Watch Out, Bandits!), 1951 

Credits prod.: Cooperative Spettatori Produttori Cinematografici; dir.: Carlo 
Lizzani; sc. and adapt.: Carlo Lizzani, Rodolfo Sonego, Giuseppe 
Dagnino, Ugo Pirro, Massimo Mida, Enrico Ribulsi, Mario Socrate, 
Gaetano De Negri, Giuliani; cin.: Gianni De Venanzo; des.: Carlo 
Egidi; mus.: Mario Zafred; ed.: Enzo Alfonsi. 

Cast Gina Lollobrigida, Andrea Checchi, Vittorio Duse, Maria Laura 
Rocca, Giuliano Montaldo, Lamberto Maggiorani, G. Taffarel, F. 
Bologna, Pietro Tordi, Bruno Berellini, Pietro Ferro, Carla del 
Poggio, Elena Varzi. 



228 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Bellissima 

(The Most Beautiful), 1951 

Credits prod.: Film Bellissima (Salvo D'Angelo); dir.: Luchino Visconti; se: 
from a story by Cesare Zavattini; adapt.: Suso Cecchi D'Amico, 
Francesco Rosi, Luchino Visconti; cin.: Piero Portalupi, Paul Roland; 
des.: Gianni Polidori; cos.: Piero Tosi; mus.: Franco Mannino, 
using The Elixir of Love (Lelisir damore), by Donizetti; ed.: Mario 
Serandrei. 

Cast Anna Magnani (Maddalena Cecconi), Walter Chiari (Alberto 
Annovazzi), Tina Apicella (Maria Cecconi), Gastone Renzelli 
(Spartaco Cecconi), Alessandro Blasetti (Himself), Tecla Scarano 
(The Acting Teacher), Lola Braccini (The Photographers Wife), 
Arturo Bragaglia (The Photographer), Linda Sini (Mimmetta), 
Amedeo Nazzari, Massimo Girotti, Titina De Filippo, Silvana 
Pampanini, Nora Ricci, Vittorio Glori (Himself), Iris (Herself), 
Geo Taparelli (Himself), Mario Chiari (Himself), Filippo Mercati 
(Himself), Vittorina Benvenuti, Gisella Monaldi, Amalia Pellegrini, 
Teresa Battaggi, Luciana Ricci, Giuseppina Arena. 

Due soldi di speranza 

(Two Cents' Worth of Hope), 1951 

Credits prod.: Universalcine (Sandro Ghenzi); dir: Renato Castellani; se: 
Renato Castellani, Ettore M. Margadonna; adapt.: Renato Castellani, 
Titina De Filippo; cin.: Arturo Gallea; mus.: Alessandro Cicognini; 
ed.: Jolanda Benvenuti. 

Cast Maria Fiore (Carmela), Luigi Astarita (Carmelas Father), Vincenzo 
Musolino (Antonio), Filomena Russo (His Mother), Gina Mascetti 
(Signora Flora), Luigi Barone (The Priest), Carmela Cirillo (Giulia), 
Felicia Lettieri (Signora Artu), Alfonso Del Sorbo (Sacristan), 
Tommaso Balzano (Luigi Bellomo), Anna Raida (Signora Bellomo), 
and the inhabitants of Boscotrecase. 

Miracolo a Milano 
(Miracle in Milan), 1951 

Credits prod.: Vittorio De Sica (for PDS, Produzioni De Sica, in association 
with ENIC); prod. dir: Nino Misiano; Production inspector: Elmo 
De Sica; Production secretary: Roberto Moretti; General organi- 
zation: Umberto Scarpelli, Carmine Bologna; dir: Vittorio De Sica; 
Assistant directors: Luisa Allessandri, Umberto Scarpelli; sc. and 
adapt.: Cesare Zavattini and Vittorio De Sica, with Suso Cecchi 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 229 

D'Amico, Mario Chiari, and Adolfo Franci; story by Zavattini, from 
his novel Toto il buono [Toto the Good] (1943); Photography: G. R. 
Aldo [Aldo Graziati]; Cameraman: Gianni Di Venanzo; Assistant 
cameramen: Augusto Tinelli, Michele Cristiani; Art director: Guido 
Fiorini; Wardrobe/Costumes: Mario Chiari; Special photographic 
effects: Ned Mann, with Sid Howell, Dave Mature, Mattia Triznya; 
Special effects camera operators: Vaclav Vich, Enzo Barboni; Editor: 
Eraldo Da Roma; Assistant editor: Marcella Benvenuti; Sound: 
Bruno Brunacci; Music, music director: Alessandro Cicognini; 
Released: Italy: February 1951; U.S.: World Theater, New York, 17 
December 1951; Running time: 96 minutes; Distributør: ENIC/ 
Joseph Burstyn; Filmed on location in Milan, at I.C.E.T. Studios in 
Milan, and at Titanus and Cinecittå Studios, Rome, between March 
and December 1950. 
Cast Emma Gramatica (Lolotta, the old woman), Francesco Golisano 
(Toto), Paolo Stoppa (Rappi, the villain), Guglielmo Barnabo 
(Mobbi, the rich man), Brunella Bovo (Edvige), Anna Carena 
(Matta, the proud lady), Alba Arnova (the statue), Virgilio Riento 
(Sgt. Riento), Arturo Bragaglia (Alfredo), Ermino Spalla (Gaetano), 
Ricardo Bertazzolo (the wrestler), Flora Cambi (unhappy girl in 
love), Angelo Prioli (first singing policeman), Francesco Rissone 
(second singing policeman), Jubel Schembri (the man with the bald 
head), Walter Scherer (Arturo), Jerome Johnson (the colored man), 
Egisto Olivieri (Mobbis lawyer), Giuseppe Spalla, Giuseppe Berardi 
(Giuseppe), Renato Navarrini (the stutterer), Enzo Furlai (Brambi, 
the landowner), Leonfi Trivaldi, and the squatters of Milan. 

Rome, ore undici 

{Rome, Eleven 0'Clock), 1952 

Credits prod.: Transcontinental-Titanus (Paul Graetz); dir: Giuseppe De 
Santis; sc. and adapt.: Cesare Zavattini, Giuseppe De Santis, Basilio 
Franchina, Rodolfo Sonego, Gianni Puccini; cin.: Otello Martelli; 
des.: Léon Barsacq; mus.: Mario Nascimbene. 

Cast Eva Vanicek (Gianna), Carla del Poggio (Lucinna), Massimo Girotti 
(Mando), Lucia Bosé (Simona), Raf Vallone (Carlo), Elena Varzi 
(Adriana), Lea Padovani (Caterina), Delia Scala (Angelina), Irene 
Galter (Clara), Paolo Stoppa (Claras Father), Maria Grazia Francia 
(Cornelia), Naudio Di Claudio (Mr. Ferrari), Armando Francioli 
(Romolo), Paola Borboni, Loretta Paoli, Alberto Farnese, Checco 
Dur ante. 



230 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



I Vinti 

(The Vanquished; The Beaten Ottes; Youth and Perversion), 1952 

Credits prod.: Film Constellazione, S.G.C.; dir.: Michelangelo Antonioni; sc. 

and adapt.: Michelangelo Antonioni, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Diego 
Fabbri, Turi Vasile, Giorgio Bassini, Roger Nimier (French episode): 
cin.: Enzo Serafin; ed.: Eraldo Da Roma; mus.: Giovanni Fusco; des.: 
Gianni Polidori and Roland Berthon. 
Cast Italian episode: Franco Interlenghi (Claudio), Anna-Maria Ferrero 
(Marina), Evi Maltagliati (Claudios mother), Eduardo Cianelli 
(Claudios father), Umberto Spadaro, Gastone Renzelli; French 
episode: Jean-Pierre Mocky (Pierre), Etchika Choureau (Simone), 
Henri Poirier, André Jacques, Annie Noel, Guy de Meulan, Jacques 
Sempey; English episode: Peter Reynolds (Aubrey), Fay Compton 
(Mrs. Pinkerton), Patrick Barr (Ken Whatton), Eileen Moore, 
Raymond Lovell, Derek Tansley, Jean Stuart, Tony Kilshaw, Fred 
Victor, Charles Irwin. 

Europa '51 

(Europe '51; The Greatest Love), 1952 

Credits prod.: Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti; dir.: Roberto Rossellini; 

sc: Roberto Rossellini; adapt.: Roberto Rossellini, Sandro De Feo, 
Mario Pannunzio, Ivo Perilli, Brunello Rondi; cin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: 
Virgilio Marchi; mus.: Renzo Rossellini; ed.: Jolanda Benvenuti. 

Cast Ingrid Bergman (Irene Girard), Alexander Knox (George Girard), 
Ettore Giannini (Andrea Casatti), Teresa Pellati (Ines), Giulietta 
Masina (Passerotto), Marcella Rovena (Mrs. Puglisi), Tina Perna 
(Cesira), Sandro Franchina (Michele Girard), Giancarlo Vigorelli 
(Judge), Maria Zanoli (Mrs. Galli), William Tubbs (Professor 
Alessandrini), Alberto Plebani (Mr. Puglisi), Alfred Brown (Hospital 
Priest), Gianna Segale (Nurse), Antonio Pietrangeli (Psychiatrist) 

Umberto D. 
1952 

Credits prod.: Giuseppe Amato (for Rizzoli-De Sica-Amato); prod. dir: 
Nino Misiano; Production secretary: Pasquale Misiano; dir: Vittorio 
De Sica; Assistant directors: Luisa Alessandri, Franco Montemurro; 
Script: Cesare Zavattini; Photography: G. R. Aldo [Aldo Graziati]; 
Cameraman: Giuseppe Rotunno; Assistant cameramen: Augusto 
Tinelli, Michele Cristiani; Art director: Virgilio Marchi; Editor: 
Eraldo Da Roma; Assistant editor: Marcella Benvenuti; Sound: 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



231 



Ernio Sensi; Music: Alessandro Cicognini; Musical recording: 
Bixio-S.A.M., Milan Orchestra: "Organizzazione Rizzi"; Released: 
Italy: 20 January 1952; U.S.: Guild Theater, New York, 7 November 
1955; Running time: 89 minutes; Distributor: Dear Film/Harrison 
Pictures; Filmed on location in Rome and at Cinecittå Studios, 
mid-1951. 

Cast Carlo Battisti (Umberto D., or Umberto Domenico Ferrari), Maria 
Pia Casilio (Maria), Lina Gennari (Antonia, the landlady), Alberto 
Albani Barbieri (Paolo, the landladys fiancé), Ilena Simova (the 
lady in the park), Elena Rea (the nun at the hospital), Memmo 
Carotenuto (patient at the hospital), and other nonprofessional 
actors. 

I vitelloni 

(The Young and the Passionaté), 1953 

Credits prod. : Jacques Bar, Mario De Vecchi, Lorenzo Pegoraro; dir. : Federico 
Fellini; se: Federico Fellinii; adapt.: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, 
Tullio Pinelli; rin.: Carlo Carlini, Otello Martelli, Luciano Trasatti; 
des.: Mario Chiari; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Rolando Benedetti. 

Cast Franco Interlenghi (Moraldo Rubini), Alberto Sordi (Alberto), 
Franco Fabrizi (Fausto Moretti), Leopoldo Trieste (Leopoldo 
Vannucci), Riccardo Fellini (Riccardo), Leonora Ruffo (Sandra 
Rubini), Jean Brochard (Francesco Moretti), Claude Farell (Olga), 
Carlo Romano (Michele Curti), Enrico Viarisio (Signor Rubini), 
Paola Borboni (Signora Rubini), Lida Baarovå (Giulia Curti), Vira 
Silenti (Gisella), Maja Nipora (Caterina), Achille Majeroni (Sergio 
Natali), Guido Martufi (Guido), Silvio Bagolini (Giudizio) 

L'amore in cittå 
(an anthology film) 

{Love in the City; Love in the Town), 1953 

Credits prod.: Faro Film (Cesare Zavattini, Riccardo Ghione, Marco Ferreri); 

dir.: Dino Risi (Heavenfor Four Hours [Paradiso per quattro ore]); 
Michelangelo Antonioni (Attempted Suicide [Tentato suicidio]); 
Federico Fellini (A Matrimonial Agency [Una agenzia matrimo- 
niale]); Francesco Maselli (Catherines Story [Stdria di Caterina]); 
Alberto Lattuada (The Italians Turn Their Heads [Gli Italiani si 
voltano]); Carlo Lizzani [Love That Pays [Lamore che si paga]); 
sc. and adapt.: Cesare Zavattini, Aldo Buzzi, Luigi Chiarini, Luigi 
Malerba, Tullio Pinelli, Vittorio Veltroni, Francesco Maselli; cin.: 



232 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

Gianni Di Venanzo; des.: Gianni Polidori; mus.: Mario Nascimbene; 
ed.: Eraldo Da Roma. 
Cast nonprofessionals re-creating their own roles: Maresa Gallo, Angela 
Pierro, Rita Andreana, Lia Natali, Cristina Drago, Ilario Malaschini, 
Sue Ellen Blake, Silvio Lillo, Antonio Cifariello, Livia Venturini, 
Mara Berni, Ugo Tognazzi, Raimondo Vianello, Edda Evangelisti, 
Liana Poggiali, Maria Pia Trepaoli, Giovanna Ralli, Valeria Moriconi, 
Caterina Rigoglioso. 

La strada 

(The Road), 1954 

Credits prod.: Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti; dir.: Federico Fellini; sc.: 
Federico Fellini; adapt.: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio 
Flaiano; cin.: Otello Martelli; des.: Mario Ravasco; mus.: Nino Rota; 
ed.: Leo Cattozzo. 

Cast Anthony Quinn (Zampano), Giulietta Masina (Gelsomina), Richard 
Basehart (The Fool), Aldo Silvani (Mr. Giraffe), Marcella Rovere 
(The Widow), Livia Venturini (The Sister). 

Senso 

(The Wanton Contessa), 1954 

Credits prod. : Lux Film; dir. : Luchino Viscontii; sc. : Luchino Visconti; adapt. : 
Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Camillo Boito, Carlo 
Alianello, Giorgio Bassani, Giorgio Prosperi, Tennessee Williams, 
Paul Bowles; cin.: G. R. Aldo, Robert Krasker; des.: Ottavio Scotti; 
mus.: Renzo Rossellini; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Alida Valli (La contessa Livia Serpieri), Farley Granger (Il tenente 
Franz Mahler), Heinz Moog (Il conte Serpieri), Rina Morelli (Laura, 
la governante), Christian Marquand (Un ufficiale boemo), Sergio 
Fantoni (Luca), Tino Bianchi (Il capitano Meucci), Ernst Nadherny 
(Il comandante della piazza di Verona), Tonio Selwart (Il colonello 
Kleist), Marcella Mariani (Clara, la prostituta), Massimo Girotti (Il 
marchese Roberto Ussoni). 

L'oro di Napoli 
(Gold ofNaples), 1954 

Credits prod.: Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti (for Ponti-De Laurentiis); 

prod. dir: Nino Misiano; Production secretary: Elmo De Sica; General 
organization: Marcello Girosi; dir: Vittorio De Sica; Assistant 
directors: Luisa Alessandri, Sandro Montemurro, Elmo De Sica; 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 233 

sc. and adapt.: Cesare Zavattini, Giuseppe Marotta, and Vittorio 
De Sica, as adapted by Zavattini from Marottas collection of short 
stories in Lbro di Napoli (1947); Photography: Otello Martelli, Carlo 
Montuori; Assistant cameraman: Goffredo Bellisario; Art directors: 
Virgilio Marchi, Gastone Medin; Set decoration: Ferdinando Ruffo; 
Costumes: Marcello Marchesi; Make-up: R. De Martino; Editor: 
Eraldo Da Roma; Sound: Bruno Brunacci; mus.: Alessandro 
Cicognini; Released: Italy: 23 December 1954; U.S.: Paris Theater, 
New York, 1 1 February 1957; Running time: Original Italian edition: 
118 minutes (five episodes); general release edition: 107 minutes 
(four episodes); Distributør: Paramount/Distributors Corp. of 
America; Filmed on location in Naples, 1953. 
Cast "Il guappo" (The Racketeer), based on Marottas story "Trentanni 
diconsi trenta": Toto (Don Saverio), Lianella Carell (his wife, 
Carolina), Pasquale Cennamo (Don Carmine), Agostino Salvietti, 
Nino Vingelli; "Pizza a credito" (Pizza on Credit), based on Marottas 
stories "Gente nei vicolo" and "La morte a Napoli": Sophia Loren 
(Sofia), Giacomo Furia (Rosario, her husband), Alberto Farnese 
(Alfredo, her lover), Paolo Stoppa (Don Peppino), Tecla Scarano, 
Pasquale Tartaro; "I giacotori" (The Gamblers), based on Marottas 
story of the same name: Vittorio De Sica (Count Prospero B), 
Pierino Bilancioni (the doormans son), Mario Passante (the vaiet), 
Irene Montalto (the countess), L. Borgostrom (the doorman); 
"Teresa," based on Marottas story "Personaggi in busta chiusa": 
Silvana Mangano (Teresa), Erno Crisa (Nicola, her husband), 
Ubaldo Maestri (the go-between); "Il professore" (The Professor), 
based on Marottas story of the same name: Eduardo De Filippo 
(Don Ersilio De Miccio, the "professor"), Tina Pica (one of his 
clientele), Nino Imparato, Gianni Crosio. 

Il bidone 

{The Swindle), 1955 

Credits prod.: Mario Derecchi; dir: Federico Fellini; sc: Federico Fellini; 

adapt: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli; rin.: Otello 
Martelli; des.: Dario Cecchi; mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Mario Serandrei, 
Giuseppe Vari. 

Cast Broderick Crawford (Augusto), Giulietta Masina (Iris), Richard 
Basehart (Picasso), Franco Fabrizi (Roberto), Sue Ellen Blake 
(Anna), Irene Cefaro (Marisa), Alberto De Amicis (Rinaldo), 
Lorella De Luca (Patrizia), Giacomo Gabrielli (Il Baron Vargas), 



234 Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 

Riccardo Garrone (Riccardo), Xenia Valderi (Luciana), Mara 
Werlen (Maggie), Maria Zanoli (Stella Florina), Ettore Bevilacqua 
(Swindled Man). 

Il ferroviere 

(The Railroad Man), 1956 

Credits prod.: ENIC (Ente Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche)/Carlo 
Ponti; dir.: Pietro Germi; sc. and adapt.: Alfredo Giannetti, Luciano 
Vincenzoni, Pietro Germi; cin.: Leonida Barboni; mus.: Carlo 
Rustichelli. 

Cast Pietro Germi, Luisa Della Noce, Sylva Koscina, Saro Urzi, Giulia, 
Edoardo Nevola, Carlo Giuffré. 

Il tetto 

(The Roof), 1956 

Credits prod.: Vittorio De Sica, Marcello Girosi (for De Sica Produzione); 

Goffredo Lombardo (for Titanus); prod. dir.: Nino Misiano; 
Production secretaries: Pasquale Misiano, Elmo De Sica; Production 
inspector: Roberto Moretti; dir: Vittorio De Sica; Assistant directors: 
Luisa Alessandri, Franco Montemurro, Elmo De Sica; Script: Cesare 
Zavattini; Photography: Carlo Montuori; Cameraman: Goffredo 
Bellisario; Assistant cameraman: Dario Regis; Art director: Gastone 
Medin; Set decorator: Ferdinando Ruffo; Costumes: Fabrizio Carafa; 
Make-up: Michele Trimarchi; Hair stylist: Lina Cassini; Editor: 
Eraldo Da Roma; Assistant editor: Marcella Benvenuti; Sound: Kurt 
Doubrawsky, Emilio de Rosa; Music: Alessandro Cicognini; Music 
director: Franco Ferrara; Music recording: Nazionalmusic, Milan; 
Released: Italy: 6 October 1956; U.S.: Trans-Lux Theater, New York, 
12 May 1959; Running time: 91 minutes; original Italian version: 120 
minutes; Distributor: Titanus/Trans-Lux Distribution; Filmed on 
location in Rome, on the beach at Terracina, and at Titanus Studio, 
Rome, October 1955 through April 1956. 

Cast Gabriella Pallotta (Luisa), Giorgio Listuzzi (Natale, her husband), 
Gastone Renzelli (Cesare, the brother-in-law), Maria Di Fiori 
(Giovanna, his wife), Maria Di Rollo (Gina), Maria Sittoro 
(Natales mother), Angelo Visentin (Natales father), Emilia 
Martini (Luisas mother), Giuseppe Martini (Luisas father), Aldo 
Boi (the boy), Luisa Alessandri (Signora Baj), Angelo Bigioni, 
Luciano Pigozzi, Carolina Ferri, Ferdinando Gerra (and other 
nonprofessionals) . 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 235 

Le notti di Cabiria 

(The Nights of Cabiria), 1957 

Credits prod.: Dino De Laurentiis; dir.: Federico Fellini; se: Federico Fellini; 

adapt.: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Pier Paolo 
Pasolini, Maria Molinari; cin.: Aldo Tonti; des.: Piero Gherardi; 
mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Leo Cattozzo. 

Cast Giulietta Masina (Maria 'Cabiria' Ceccarelli), Francois Périer (Oscar 
D'Onofrio), Franca Marzi (Wanda), Dorian Gray (Jessy), Aldo 
Silvani (The wizard), Ennio Girolami (Amleto, "il magnaccia"), 
Mario Passante (Uncle of Amleto), Amedeo Nazzari (Alberto 
Lazzari). 

Il Generale della Rovere 
(General della Rovere), 1959 

Credits dir.: Roberto Rossellini; Assistant dir.: Renzo Rossellini; Treatment: 
from a story by Indro Montanelli, based on an actual incident; 
Screenplay: Sergio Amidei, Diego Fabbri, Indro Montanelli; 
Photography: Carlo Carlini; Art director: Piero Zuffi; Sets: Elio 
Costanzi; Editor: Cesare Cavagna; Music: Renzo Rossellini; Sound: 
Ovidio Del Grande; Producer: Paola Frascå; Production: Moris 
Ergas for Zebra Film, Rome/SNE Gaumont, Paris; Country oforigin: 
Italy-France; Italian distributor: Cineriz 

Cast Vittorio De Sica (Giovanni Bardone), Hannes Messemer (Colonel 
Muller), Sandra Milo (Olga), Giovanna Ralli (Valeria), Anne Vernon 
(Fassio, a widow), Vittorio Caprioli (Banchelli), Lucia Modugno (a 
resistance fighter), Giuseppe Rossetti (Fabrizio), Luciano Picozzi 
(a street cleaner), Nando Angelini, Herbert Fischer, Kurt Polter, 
Giuseppe Rossetto, Kurt Selge, Franco Interlenghi, Linda Veras. 

Rocco e i suoi fratelli 

(Rocco and His Brothers), 1960 

Credits prod.: Goffredo Lombardo; dir.: Luchino Visconti; se: Luchino 
Visconti; adapt.: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi DAmico, Vasco 
Pratolini, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Massimo Franciosa, Enrico 
Medioli, Giovanni Testori (inspired by an episode from his novel II 
ponte della Ghisolfa); cin.: Giuseppe Rotunno; des.: Mario Garbuglia; 
mus.: Nino Rota; ed.: Mario Serandrei. 

Cast Alain Delon (Rocco Parondi), Renato Salvatori (Simone Parondi), 
Annie Girardot (Nadia), Katina Paxinou (Rosaria Parondi), 
Alessandra Panaro (Ciros Fiancée), Spiros Focås (Vincenzo 



236 



Chronology and Credits of the Films of Italian Neorealism 



Parondi), Max Cartier (Ciro Parondi), Corrado Pani (Ivo), Rocco 
Vidolazzi (Luca Parondi), Claudia Mori (Laundrey Worker), 
Adriana Asti (Laundrey Worker), Enzo Fiermonte (Boxer), Nino 
Castelnuovo (Nino Rossi), Rosario Borelli (Un biscazziere), Renato 
Terra (Alfredo, Ginettas brother), Roger Hanin (Morini), Paolo 
Stoppa (Cecchi), Suzy Delair (Luisa), Claudia Cardinale (Ginetta). 




Rocco and His Brothers, dir. Luchino Visconti, 1960. 



Select Bibliography ofltalian Neorealism 



Almendros, Nestor. "Neorealist Cinematography." Film Culture, 20 (1959): 
39-43. 

Anonymous. "Italy after the Liberation: Reality and Neorealism." [London] 
Times Literary Supplement, No. 3111 (13 October 1961): 710-711. 

Aristarco, Guido. "Italian Cinema." Film Culture, 1.2 (March- April 1955): 
29-33. 

— Neorealism and National Environment. Rimini: Grimaldi, 1976. 

Armes, Roy. Patterns ofRealism. South Brunswick, New Jersey: A. S. Barnes, 
1971— "Italy." In A Concise History of the Cinema: Since 1940. Peter Cowie 
(ed.). New York: A. S. Barnes, 1971, 120-128. 

— "Rossellini and Neorealism." In Armess Film and Reality. Harmondsworth, 
U.K.: Penguin, 1974, 64-69. 

Baranski, Zygmunt G., and Robert Lumley, (eds.). Culture and Conflict in 
Postwar Italy: Essays on Mass and Popular Culture. New York: St. Martins 
Press, 1990. 

Bennett, Joseph. "Italian Film: Failure and Emergence." Kenyon Review, 26 A 

(Autumn 1964): 738-747. 
Bertellini, Giorgio. The Cinema of Italy. London: Wallflower, 2004. 
Bettetini, Gianfranco. "On Neorealism." Framework, 2 (1975): 9-10. 
Bondanella, Peter E. "Neorealist Aesthetics and the Fantastic: The Machine to Kill 

BadPeople and Miracle in Milan." Film Criticism, 3.2 (Winter 1979): 24-29. 

— "America and the Post-War Italian Cinema." Rivista di Studi Italiani, 2, No. 1 
(June 1984): 106-125. 

— "The Masters of Neoralism: Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti." In Bondanellas 
Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present. 3rd ed. New York: 
Continuum, 2001, 31-73. 

Brunetta, Gian Piero. The History ofltalian Cinema: A Guide to Italian Film from 
Its Origins to the Twenty-First Century. Trans. Jeremy Parzen. Princeton, New 
Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2009. 



237 



238 



Select Bibliography of Italian Neorealism 



Brunette, Peter. "Rossellini and Cinematic Realism." Cinema Journal, 1 (Autumn 
1985): 34-49. 

Burke, Frank M. "Variety Lights, The White Sheik, and Italian Neorealism." Film 
Criticism, 3.2 (Winter 1979): 53-66. 

— "Neorealism, Fellinfs Una agenzia matrimoniale, and the Limitations of 
Objectivity." Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Purdue Conference on Film 
(1981), 165-170. 

Buss, Robin. Italian Films. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1989. 

Cannella, Mario. "Ideology and Aesthetic Hypotheses in the Criticism of 

Neorealism." Screen, 14.4 (1973-74): 5-60. 
Cardullo, Bert. What Is Neorealism?: A Critical English-Language Bibliography of 

Italian Cinematic Neorealism. Lanham: University Press of America, 1991. 
Carsaniga, C. M. "Realism in Italy." In Age of Realism. R W. J. Hemmings (ed.). 

Baltimore: Penguin, 1974. 
Celli, Carlo. A New Guide to Italian Cinema. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 

2007. 

Chiaromonte, Nicola. "Rome Letter: Itaian Movies." Partisan Review, 16.6 (June 
1949): 621-630. 

Clair, René. "Nothing Is more Artificial than Neorealism." Films and Filming, 3.9 
(June 1957): 7+. 

Clark, F. M. "In Italy Today." In Impact on Books, No. 1: This Film Business. 
London, 1948. 

— "Freedom and the Italian Cinema." In Impact on Books, No. 2: Sense and 
Censorship. London, 1949. 

Dalle Vacche, Angela. The Body in the Mirror: Shapes ofHistory in Italian 
Cinema. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992. 

Dombroski, Robert S. (ed). Italy: Fiction, Theater, Poetry and Film since 1950. 
Smyrna, Delaware: Griffon House, 2000. 

Eisner, Lotte H. "Notes on Some Recent Italian Films." Sequence, 8 (Summer 
1949): 52-58. 

Emmer, Luciano, and Enrico Gras. "The Film Renaissance in Italy." Hollywood 

Quarterly, 2.4 (Jury 1947): 353-358. 
Film Criticism, 3.2 (Winter 1979): special issue on Italian neorealism. 
Forgacs, David. Italian Culture in the Industrial Era, 1880-1980: Cultural 

Industries, Politics, and the Public. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University 

Press, 1990. 

French, Brandon. "The Continuity of the Italian Cinema." Yale Italian Studies, 2 

(Winter 1978): 59-69. 
Frongia, Eugene. "The Literary Roots of Cinematic Neorealism." Forum Italicum, 

17.2 (Fall 1983): 176-195. 
Gallagher, T. "Roberto Rossellini and Historical Neorealism." Artforum, 10 

(Summer 1975): 40-49. 
Gieri, Manuela. Contemporary Italian Filmmaking: Strategies of Subversion; 



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239 



Pirandello, Fellini, Scola, and the Directors of the New Generation. Toronto: 

University of Toronto Press, 1995. 
Gough-Yates, Kevin. "The Destruction of Neorealism." Films and Filming, 16.12 

(September 1970): 14-22. 
Gunsberg, Maggie. Italian Cinema: Gender and Genre. New York: Palgrave 

Macmillan, 2005. 

Harcourt, Peter. "Towards a New Neorealism?" London Magazine, NS 2.3 (June 

1962): 70-74; NS 2.4 (July 1962): 45-48. 
Hay, James. Popular Film Culture in Fascist Italy. Bloomington: Indiana 

University Press, 1987. 
Hewitt, Nicholas. The Culture of Reconstruction: European Literature, Thought, 

and Film, 1945-1950. Basingstoke, U.K.: Macmillan, 1989. 
Hine, A. "Italian Movies." Holiday, 15 (February 1954): 11+. 
Houston, Penelope. "The Italian Experience." In Houstohs The Contemporary 

Cinema, Baltimore: Penguin, 1963, 19-34. 
Huaco, George A. "Italian Neorealism." In Huacos The Sociology of Film Art. 

New York. Basic Books, 1965, 155-209. 
Issari, M. Ali, and Doris A. Paul. "Neorealism." In their What Is Cinema Vérité? 

Metuchen, New Jersey. Scarecrow, 1979, 41-45. 
Jarrett, Vernon. "The Italians." Sight and Sound, 17.65 (Spring 1948): 25-28; 

17.66 (Summer 1948): 71-74. 

— The Italian Cinema. London: Falcon Press, 1951. 

Kass, Robert. "The Italian Film Renaissance." Films in Review, 4.7 (August- 

September 1953): 336-348. 
Knight, Arthur. "The Course of Italian Neorealism." In Knights The Liveliest Art. 

Rev. ed. New York: Mentor, 1979, 238-250. 
Kumlien, Gunnar D. "The Artless Art of Italian Films." Commonweal, 58.7 (22 

May 1953): 177-179. 
Lambert, Gavin. "Notes on a Renaissance." Sight and Sound, NS 19.10 (February 

1951): 399-409. 

— "Further Notes on a Renaissance." Sight and Sound, NS 22.2 (October- 
December 1952): 61-65. 

— "Italian Notes. The Signs of a Predicament." Sight and Sound, NS 24.3 
(January-March 1955): 147-166. 

Landy, Marcia. Fascism in Film: The Italian Commercial Cinema, 1931-1943. 
Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986. 

— The Folklore of Consensus: Theatricality in the Italian Cinema, 1930-1943. 
Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. 

— Italian Film. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 

Lane, John Francis. "De Santis and Italian Neorealism." Sight and Sound, NS 19.6 

(August 1950): 245-247. 
Lattuada, Alberto. "We Took the Actors into the Streets." Films and Filming, 5.7 

(April 1959): 8+. 



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Lawson, John Howard. "Neorealism." In Lawsons Film: The Creative Process. 

New York: Hill and Wang, 1964, 146-153. 
Lawton, Ben. Literary and Socio-Political Trends in Italian Cinema. Los Angeles: 

Center for Italian Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, 1975. 

— "Italian Neorealism: A Mirror Construction of Reality." Film Criticism, 3.2 
(Winter 1979): 8-23. 

Leprohon, Pierre. "The Period of Neorealism (1943-1950)." In Leprohons The 

Italian Cinema. Trans. Roger Greaves and Oliver Stallybrass. New York: 

Praeger, 1972, 85-124. 
Liehm, Mira. Passion and Defiance: Film in Italy from 1942 to the Present. 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 
Lorch, M. de Panizza. "Reflections on Roberto Rossellini and Italian 

Neorealism." Barnard Alumnae, Autumn 1971. 
Luce, Candida. "Incoherence in Italian Films." Films in Review, 1.7 (October 

1950): 15-18. 

Makins, William Cooper. "The Film in Italy." Sight and Sound, 15.60 (Winter 

1946-47): 126-129. 
Manvell, Roger. Films and the Second World War. New York: Dell, 1974. 
Marcus, Millicent. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton, New Jersey: 

Princeton University Press, 1986. 

— Filmmaking by the Book: Italian Cinema and Literary Adaptation. Baltimore: 
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. 

— After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age. Baltimore: Johns 
Hopkins University Press, 2002. 

Marinucci, Vincent. "Fact, Fiction, and History Were In at the Beginning." Films 
and Filming, 7.4 (January 1961): 15-16+. 

— "History— Before and After Mussolini." Films and Filming, 7.5 (February 
1961): 37-38+. 

Michalczyk, John J. The Italian Political Filmmakers. Rutherford, New Jersey: 

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1986. 
Monaco, Paul. "Realism, Italian Style." In Monacos Ribbons in Time: Movies and 

Society since 1945. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, 1-32. 
Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey, with James Hay and Gianni Volpi. The Companion to 

Italian Cinema. London: Cassell/British Film Institute, 1996. 
Overbey, David (trans, and ed.). Springtime in Italy: A Reader on Neorealism. 

Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1978. 
Pacifici, Sergio J. "Notes toward a Definition of Neorealism." Yale French Studies, 

17 (Summer 1956): 44-53. 
Perry, Ted. "The Road to Neorealism." Film Comment, 14.6 (November- 

December 1978): 7-13. 

— "Roots of Neorealism." Film Criticism, 3.2 (Winter 1979): 3-7. 
Procaccini, Alfonso. "Neorealism: Description/Prescription." Yale Italian Studies, 

2 (Winter 1978): 39-57. 



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241 



Reich, Jacqueline, and Garofalo, Piero (eds.)- Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 

1922-1943. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002. 
Reid, A. "The Short Film in Italy." Sight and Sound, 17.68 (Winter 1948-49): 

166+. 

Restivo, Angelo. The Cinema ofEconomic Miracles: Visuality and Modernization 
in the Italian Art Film. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 
2002. 

Rhode, Eric. "Why Neorealism Failed." Sight and Sound, 30.1 (Winter 1960-61): 
25-32. 

— "Neorealism and the Cold War." In Rhodes A History of the Cinema: From Its 
Origins to 1970. New York: Hill and Wang, 1976, 428-479. 

Ricci, Steven. Cinema and Fascism: Italian Film and Society, 1922-1943. 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. 
Ricciardi, Alessia. "The Italian Redemption of Cinema: Neorealism from Bazin 

to Godard." The Romanic Review, 97 (May-November 2006): 483-500. 
Rimanelli, Giose, (ed). Patterns of Italian Cinema. Albany: Dept. of Hispanic 

and Italian Studies at the State University of New York, 1980. 
Rocchio, Vincent F. Cinema of Anxiety: A Psychoanalysis of Italian Neorealism. 

Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999. 
Rohdie, Sam. "Italian Neorealism, 1941-1943." Australian Journal of Screen 

Theory Nos. 15-16 (1983): 133-162. 

— "Capital and Realism in the Italian Cinema: An Examination of Film in the 
Fascist Period." Screen, 24.4-5 (1983): 37-46. 

Rondi, Gian Luigi. The Italian Cinema Today, 1952-1965. New York, Hill and 
Wang, 1966. 

Ruberto, Laura E., and Kristi M. Wilson (eds). Italian Neorealism and Global 

Cinema. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2007. 
Sargeant, Winthrop. "Profiles: Bread, Love, and Neorealism." The New Yorker, 

33.19 (29 June 1957): 35-58; 33.20 (6 July 1957): 35-53. 
Scherk, Alfred. "The Italian Film Industry in Transition." Penguin Film Review, 1 

(August 1946): 80-83. 
Shiel, Mark. Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. London: 

Wallflower Press, 2006. 
Sitney, P. Adams. Vital Crises in Italian Cinema: Iconography Stylistics, Politics. 

Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. 
Sorlin, Pierre. "The Italian Resistance in the Second World War." In Sorlins The 

Film in History. Restaging the Past. Totowa, New Jersey: Barnes and Noble, 

1980, 189-206. 

— Italian National Cinema, 1896-1996. London: Routledge, 1996. 
Spiegel, Robert. "Verga and the Realist Cinema." Carte Italiane: A Journal of 

Italian Studies, 2 (1980-81): 43-55. 
Stewart, John. Italian Film: A Who's Who. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 
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Strand, Paul. "Realism: A Personal View." Sight and Sound, 19 (January 1950): 
23-26. 

Testa, Carlo. Italian Cinema and Modem European Literatures, 1945-2000. 
Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2002. 

— Masters ofTwo Arts: Re-creation of European Literatures in Italian Cinema. 
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002. 

Venturi, Lauro. "Notes on Five Italian Films." Hollywood Quarterly, 5.4 (Summer 
1951): 389-400. 

Verdone, Mario. "The Italian Cinema from Its Beginnings to Today." Hollywood 
Quarterly, 5.3 (Spring 1951): 270-281 . 

— "A Discussion of Neorealism: Rossellini Interviewed." Screen, 14.4 (1973-74): 
69-77. 

Vermilye, Jerry. Great Italian Films: From the Thirties to the Present. New York: 
Citadel, 1994. 

Vessolo, Arthur. "The Italian Cinema Before the Liberation." Sight and Sound, 

16.61 (Spring 1947): 6-7. 
Vighi, Fabio. Traumatic Encounters in Italian Film: Locating the Cinematic 

Unconscious. Bristol, U.K.: Intellect, 2006. 
Vitti, Antonio. Giuseppe De Santis and Postwar Italian Cinema. Toronto: 

University of Toronto Press, 1996. 
Wagstaff, Christopher. "The Italian Cinema Industry During the Fascist Regime." 

The Italianist, 4 (1984): 160-174. 

— Italian Neorealist Cinema: An Aesthetic Approach. Toronto: University of 
Toronto Press, 2007. 

Wead, George, and George Lellis. "Italian Neorealism." In their Film: Form and 

Function. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1981, 346-351. 
Wilson, John S. "Italian Film Story: Renaissance Revisited." Theatre Arts, 39 

(May 1955): 69-69+. 
Witcombe, R. T. The New Italian Cinema: Studies in Dance and Despair. New 

York: Oxford University Press, 1982. 
Wlaschin, Ken. Italian Cinema Since the War. Cranbury, New Jersey: A. S. 

Barnes, 1971. 

Wollenberg, H. H. "New Developments in the Italian Cinema." Film and Theatre 

Today, No. 1 (1949). 
Wood, Mary R Italian Cinema. New York: Berg, 2005. 
Zavattini, Cesare. "Some Ideas on the Cinema." Sight and Sound, NS 23.2 

(October-December 1953): 64-69. 



A Bazin Bibliography 



BOOKS BY ANDRÉ BAZIN IN FRENCH 

Bazin, André. Quést-ce que le cinéma? In four volumes: I. Ontologie et langage 
(1958); II. Le Cinéma et les autres arts (1959); III. Cinéma et sociologie 
(1961); IV. Une Esthetique de la réalité: le néoréalisme (1962). Paris: Éditions 
du Cerf, 1958-62. 

— Jean Renoir. Paris: Editions Champ Libre, 1971. 

— Orson Welles. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1972. 

— Le Cinéma de la cruauté. Paris: Flammarion, 1975. 

— Le Cinéma de 1'occupation et la résistance. Paris: UnionGénérale deditions, 
1975. 

— and Eric Rohmer. Charlie Chaplin. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1972. 

ARTICLES AND REVIEWS BY BAZIN IN FRENCH 

1,375 items in total: 

In Le Parisien libéré: 625 items from issue #117 in 1944 to issue #4405 the day 

before Bazin died in November 1958. 
In Esprit: 52 items. 

In VObservateur (France-Observateur) : 275 items. 

In Cahiers du cinéma: 111 items. 

In Télérama (Radio-Cinéma-Télévision) : 96 items. 

In L'Education Nationale: 33 items. 

In Arts: 9 items. 

In Peuple et Culture (DOC Education Populaire) : 7 items. 
In VEcran Francais: 111 items. 

Also: 56 miscellaneous items (including pieces from his student period) in 
magazines such as Les Temps Modernes, Ciné-Club, etc; and in books 
such as the collective work titled Sept ans de cinéma francais (1945-1952) 



243 



244 



A Bazin Bibliography 



[one chapter by Bazin; published by Éditions du Cerf] , J. L. Rieupeyrouts Le 
Western ou le cinéma américain par excellence [preface by Bazin; published 
by Éditions du Cerf], Cinéma 53 å travers le monde [Italian chapter by 
Bazin; published by Éditions du Cerf], and Pierre Leprohons edited 
work Contemporary Presences [chapter on Welles by Bazin; published by 
Debressie]. 

BOOKS BY BAZIN IN ENGLISH 

What Is Cinema? Selected and translated by Hugh Gray from the first two 
volumes of Quést-ce que le cinéma? Berkeley: University of California Press, 
1967. 

What is Cinema? Volume II. Selected and translated by Hugh Gray from the last 
two volumes of Quést-ce que le cinéma 7 . Berkeley: University of California 
Press, 1971. 

Jean Renoir. Translated by W. W. Halsey II and William H. Simon. New York: 

Simon and Schuster, 1973. 
Orson Welles. Translated by Jonathan Rosenbaum. New York: Harper and Row, 

1978. 

French Cinema of the Occupation and Resistance: "TheBirth of a Critical Esthetic." 

Translated by Stanley Hochman. Preface by Francois Truffaut. New York: 

Frederick Ungar, 1981. 
The Cinema of Cruelty. Translated by Sabine dEstrée. New York: Seaver Books, 

1982. 

Essays on Chaplin. Translated by Jean Bodon. New Haven, Connecticut: 

University of New Haven Press, 1985. 
Bazin at Work: Major Essays and Reviews From the Forties and Fifties. Translated 

by Bert Cardullo and Alain Piette. New York: Routledge, 1997. 

WORKS ON BAZIN IN ENGLISH 

Andrew, Dudley. "André Bazin." In Andrews The Major Film Theories. New 

York. Oxford University Press, 1976, 134-178. 
— . André Bazin. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978; Columbia University 

Press, 1990. 

— . What Cinema Is! Malden, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 

Andrew, Dudley, ed. Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife. New 
York: Oxford University Press, 20 1 1 . 

Carroll, Noél. "Cinematic Representation and Realism: André Bazin and the 
Aesthetics of Sound Film." In Carrolls Philosophical Problems of Classical 
Film Theory. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press, 1988, 93-171. 

Film International, No. 30 (November 2007). Special issue devoted to Bazin. 



A Bazin Bibliography 



245 



Henderson, Brian. "The Structure of Bazins Thought." In A Critique of Film 

Theory. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980, 32-47. 
Morgan, Daniel. "Rethinking Bazin. Ontology and Realist Aesthetics." Critical 

Inquiry, 32.3 (2006): 443-481. 
Offscreen.com, 13, No. 2 (February 2009). Special issue devoted to Bazin. 
Rosen, Philip. "Subject, Ontology, and Historicity in Bazin." In 'Change 

Mummified': Cinema, Historicity, Theory Minneapolis: University of 

Minnesota Press, 2001, 3-41. 
Velvet Light Trap, 21 (Summer 1985). Special issue devoted to Bazin. 
Wide Angle, 9, No. 4 (1987). Special issue devoted to Bazin. 
Williams, Christopher. "Bazin on Neorealism." Screen, 14.4 (Winter 1973-1974): 

61-68. 



Index 



1860 146, 208 
Abadanis, The 27 
Abouna 27 
Accattone 28 

Adorable Creatures see Adorables 

créatures 
Adorables créatures 114, 156 
Adventure of Salvator Rosa see 

UriAvventura di Salvator Rosa 
Agenzia matrimoniale, Urta see A 

Matrimonial Agency 
Agostino 125 

Aldo, G. R. see Alto Tonti 
Alexander Nevsky 102 
Althusser, Louis 15 
Altri Tempi 136-7 
Amelio, Gianni 28 
Amore che si paga, L' see Love That 
Pays 

Amore in cittå, L' see Love in the 
City 

Anderson, Lindsay 164 
Andreotti, Giulio 26-7 
Antonioni, Michelangelo 16, 21, 28, 

78, 97, 123-5, 128, 190 
Apple, The 27 
Apu trilogy (Ray) 28 
Aristarco, Guido 150, 163-4, 171 
Arnheim, Rudolf 1 
Astruc, Alexandre 14 
Attempted Suicide see Love in the 

City 

Avventura di Salvator Rosa, Un 
32 

Ayari, Kianoush 27 
Ayfre, Amédée 152, 174 

Babenco, Hector 27 
Bachelor Party, The 192 
Bambini ci guardano, I see The 
Children Are Watching Us 



Banditi a Orgosolo see The Bandits 

of Orgosolo 
Bandit ofTacca del Lupo, The 130-1 
Bandito, Il 31, 33, 43,217 
Bandits of Orgosolo 28 
Basehart, Richard 201 
Battle of Stalingrad, The 11 
Battleship Potemkin, The 29, 37, 52, 

55, 102 
Bazin, André 1-17 
Bazin, Florent 3 
Bazin, Janine 3 
Bazin at Work 16 
Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin 

Caron de 34 
Becker, Jacques 106, 164 
Bellocchio, Marco 28 
Bergman, Ingrid 122, 146, 184 
Bergson, Henri 13, 197 
Berthomieu, André 96 
Bianco e Nero 21 
Bicycle Thieves 8, 19, 25, 61-75, 

79-82, 85, 89, 96, 104, 107, 

111-12, 115, 117-18, 120, 152, 

155, 172, 184, 187, 194, 222-3 
Bidone, Il 180-3, 194-8, 201-2, 

233-4 
Bitter Rice 131-4, 225 
Blasetti, Alessandro 23-4, 32, 

136-7, 146 
Blood of a Poet, The 95-6 
Body and Soul 28 
Boileau, Nicolas 188, 190 
Boomerang! 28 
Bosé, Lucia 124, 131,134-6 
Bread, Love, and Dreams 164 
Bread, Love, and Jealousy 155 
Bresson, Robert 9, 12, 14, 124, 

146, 160 
Brief Encounter 62 
Brigante di Taccadel Lupo, Il 104 



Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The 7 
Cabiria 31, 97, 141 
Caccia tragica 35, 54-5, 131-2, 220 
Cahiers du cinéma 3, 13-15, 128, 
164 

Cain, James M. 24, 64 
Calvino, Italo 20 
Camerini, Mario 32, 84 
Cammino della speranza, Il see The 

Road to Hope 
Camus, Albert 42 
Cannes Film Festival 63, 94, 107, 

127, 138, 141, 144, 155-6, 158, 

196 

Capote, Truman 128 
Carné, Marcel 33, 76, 106 
Carré, Leon 92 
Casque dor 164 

Castellani, Renato 104, 106-10, 117, 
143, 146 

Catherines Story see Love in the City 
Catholicism 4-6, 15, 65-6, 72, 92, 

151-2 
Cavalcanti, Alberto 62 
Cayatte, André 143 
Centro Sperimentale (film school) 

21, 30 
Cézanne, Paul 43 
Chabrol, Claude 8, 14 
Chaplin, Charles 9, 11, 13, 67, 70, 

83-5, 96, 148, 162, 192, 202 
Chardin, Pierre Teilhard de 6 
Chayevsky, Paddy 192 
Chekhov, Anton 199 
Chiarini, Luigi 21, 62, 150, 152 
Children Are Watching Us, The 23-5, 

74, 214 
Children ofHeaven, The 27 
Chirico, Giorgio de 97 
Christianity 4, 9, 55, 91, 170, 182 
Christian-Jaque 44, 114, 156, 179 



246 



Index 



247 



Chronicle of Poor Lovers 144-5 
Cielo sulla palude see Heaven over 

the Marshes 
Cinecittå (film studio) 20-1 
Cinema Nuovo 128, 150, 152, 163-4 
Cinema Paradiso 28 
"Cinematic Realism and the Italian 

School of the Liberation" 53 
Citizen Kane 10, 39-41, 49, 53, 95-6 
Clair, Rene 31, 96 
classicism 122 
Clément, René 27 
Clift, Montgomery 128 
Clouzot, Henri-Georges 13, 127 
Cocteau, Jean 12, 95-6 
Colpa del sole see It Is the Suns 

Fault 

comedy 16, 22, 32, 40, 125, 136, 

138, 141, 170 
Comencini, Luigi 155, 164 
Commedia dellarte 40, 42, 50, 69 
Communism 21, 34, 42, 51, 55, 65, 

82, 120, 150-2, 170, 173 
Consul, The 102 
Coogan, Jackie 69 
Cops and Robbers 138, 155 
Corona diferro, La 31-2, 211 
Courteline, Georges 136 
Cristo proibito, Il see Forbidden 

Christ 
Critique 3 

Cronaca di un amore 78, 97, 123-4, 
189 

Cronache di poveri amanti see 

Chronicle of Poor Lovers 
Crossfire 28 

Daquin, Louis 27 

Dassin, Jules 28, 158 

Day in the Life, A see Un giorno 

nella vita 
Del Poggio, Carla 136 
De Paul, Saint Vincent 92, 173, 

196, 201 
Derniére chance, La 35, 143 
De Santis, Giuseppe 21, 43, 79, 

131-6 
Descartes, René 188 
De Seta, Vittorio 28 
De Sica, Vittorio 8-9, 19, 21-8, 

32,61-88, 96-7, 104, 106-7, 

111-20, 122, 127-8, 136, 138, 

146, 155-62, 166, 172-5, 184-6, 

199, 201 

Diary of a Country Priest 12, 146 
documentary 4, 6, 22, 24, 27, 33, 
36, 40, 43-4,51,53, 56,61-2, 97, 
105-7, 134, 139, 167, 169-70, 
179, 199 

Domenica dagosto see Sunday in 
August 



Don Camilla 83, 151 
Doniol-Valcroze, Jacques 3 
Dos Passos, John 42, 49 
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor 121, 160, 

183, 199 
Dovzhenko, Alexander 29 
Drago, Eleonora Rossi 134 
Dreyer, Carl 9 
Duca, Lo 3 

Due soldi di speranza see Two Cents' 

Worth of Hope 
Du Gard, Martin 70 
Duvivier, Julien 27, 164, 179 
Dymytryk, Edward 28 

Earth Trembles, The 19, 51-6, 69, 
72, 89-90, 97, 170, 178-9, 
222 

Écran francais, V 3 
Education Nationale, V 3 
Églises romanes de Saintonge, Les 4 
Eisenstein, Sergei 7, 29, 35, 37, 52, 

55, 70, 102 
Ekk, Nikolai 35 
Emmer, Luciano 138-9 
End of St. Petersburg, The 55 
Espoir, L' 35-6 
Esprit X 10-11,53 
Étranger, L' 42 

Europe '51 13, 120-2, 146, 152, 166, 

170, 173, 175, 230 
"Evolution of the Language of 

Cinema, The" 7, 10 
existentialism 6, 9 
expressionism, German 7, 29, 38, 

77-9, 200 

Fabrizi, Aldo 35-6, 138 
Fabrizi, Franco 200 
farce 136, 138, 156 
Earl nella nebbia see Headlights in 
the Fog 

Farrebique 36-7, 39-40, 51, 53, 
69, 90 

Fascism21,30-1,46, 101 
Faulkner, William 42, 45 
Fear see La Paura 
Fellini, Federico 12, 28, 140-1, 

148-54, 180-4, 190, 192-203 
Fernandel 138, 159 
Feuillade, Louis 49 
Feyder, Jacques 76 
Fille des Marais, La see Heaven over 

the Marshes 
Film Technique 7 
Fist in His Pocket 28 
Flaherty, Robert 83 
Flaubert, Gustav 178 
Flowers of St. Francis, The 152, 166, 

170, 174, 226 
Fontaine, Jean de La 143 



Forbidden Christ 16, 79, 94-102, 
227 

Forbidden Fruit see Lefruit 

défendu 
Forbidden Games 27 
For Whom the Bell Tolls 49 
Four Handred Blows, The 27 
Four Steps in the Clouds 23, 31, 62, 

64, 213 
Fracassi, Clemente 134 
France-Observateur 3 
Francesco, giullare di Dio see The 

Flowers of St. Francis 
Franciolini, Gianni 23-4 
Fruit défendu, Le 1 14 

Gabin, Jean 64 
Gallone, Carmine 31, 62 
Garibaldian in the Convent, A 
23 

Genina, Augusto 69, 89-93, 96-7, 
136-7 

Germania, anno zero see Germany, 

Year Zero 
Germany, Year Zero 57-60, 67, 75, 

121, 166, 170, 173, 220 
Germi, Pietro 16, 21, 62, 103-5, 

129-31 
Gide, André 70 
Giorno nella vita, Un 32, 219 
Giovanna dArco al rogo 166 
Girotti, Massimo 136 
Giulietta e Romeo see Romeo and 

juliet 

Gli Italiani si voltano see The 
Italians Turn Their Heads 

Gli uomini, che mascalzoni! 32 

Godard, Jean-Luc 8 

Gogol, Nikolai 141 

Golden Helmet see Casque dor 

Gold ofNaples 128, 138, 155-62, 
170, 184, 232-3 

Gold Rush, The 87 

Gramatica, Emma 86 

Grande illusion, La 31, 143 

Grandson of the Three Musketeers, 
The 141 

Grant, Cary 69-70 

Greatest Love, The see Europe '51 

Grede, Kjell 27 

Greed 29 

Grierson, John 62 
Griffith, D. W. 7, 39 
Guardie e ladri see Cops and 

Robbers 
Guareschi, Giovannino 151 
Guazzoni, Enrico 31 

Haroun, Mahamat-Saleh 27 
Hawks, Howard 8, 158 
Headlights in the Fog 23, 21 1 



248 



Index 



Heavenfor Four Hours see Love in 
the City 

Heaven over the Marshes 69, 72, 

89-93, 96-7, 136, 224 
Hegel, G. W. F. 16 
Hemingway, Ernest 42, 45 
Hitchcock, Alfred 8, 111, 158 
Hollywood 7, 9, 19, 25, 29, 37, 43, 

49, 96, 141, 155 
Hugo and Joesphine 27 
humanism 15, 33-4 

leide Ihief, The 28 
Idiot, The 121 

Indiscretion of an American Wife see 

Stazione Termini 
Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique 95 
In nome della legge 62, 104, 130, 225 
Institut des hautes études 

cinématographiques (I.D.H.E.C.) 

2, 11, 30 

In the Name of the Law see In nome 

della legge 
Iron Crown, The see La corona di 

ferro 
Italian, The 27 

Italians Turn Their Heads, The 

189, 191 
It Happened in Europe 57 
It Is the Suris Fault 125 
Ivan the Terrible 102 

Jancso, Miklos 8 
Joan of Are at the Stake see 
Giovanna dArco al rogo 
Joh, The see Uposto 
Jones, Jennifer 128 

Kafka, Franz 85 
Kazan, Elia 28 
Kiarostami, Abbas 27 
Koker trilogy (Kiarostami) 27 
Kore-eda, Hirokazu 27 
Kracauer, Siegfried 1, 11 
Kravchuk, Andrei 27 
Khrushchev, Nikita 12 

Lacan, Jacques 15 
Ladies of the Bois de Boulogne, 
The 160 

Ladri di hiciclette see Bicycle Thieves 
Ladri di saponette see The Icicle 
Ihief 

Ladro di hambini see Stolen 

Children 
Lady without Camelias, The 124 
Lang, Fritz 29, 79 
Last Chance, The see La derniére 

chance 

Lattuada, Alberto 31-2, 43, 79, 97, 
106, 141, 166, 189, 191 



Lawless, The 28 
Lean, David 62 
Leenhardt, Roger 71 
Lévy, Jean Benoit 27 
Libertas 26-7 
Limelight 148 

Lindtberg, Leopold 36, 130, 143 

Little Foxes, The 9 

Little Old-Fashioned World see 

Piccolo mondo antico 
Lizzani, Carlo 144-6, 188 
Lollabrigida, Gina 125, 136 
Losey, Joseph 28 

Love in the City 16, 187-91, 231-2 
Lovers of Verona 143 
Love That Pays see Love in the City 
Lumiére, Auguste 35, 97 
Lumiére, Louis 35, 97 

Maddalena, Zero for Conduct 23 
Magnani, Anna 35-6 
Majidi, Majid 27 
Makhmalbaf, Samira 27 
Malaparte, Curzio 79, 94-102 
Malraux, André 35, 42, 49, 95-6 
Mangano, Silvana 134, 159, 161 
"Manifesta of Italian Cinema" 27 
Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, The 1 1 
Mann, Delbert 192 
Mans Hope 95-6 
Marivaux, Pierre Carlet de 

Chamblain de 110 
Marker, Chris 14 
Marx, Groucho 125 
Marxism 6, 15, 42, 150-2, 177-8 
Maselli, Franceso 189 
Masina, Giulietta 203 
Moss Is Ended, The 28 
Maternelle, La 27 
Matisse, Henri 43, 171 
Matrimonial Agency, A see Love in 

the City 
Mauriac, Francois 125 
Méliés, Georges 97 
melodrama 10, 31-2, 34, 42, 62, 74, 

78,81, 115, 118, 120, 130, 134, 

136, 141, 179, 195, 197-8 
Menotti, Gian Carlo 102 
Messa éfinita, La see The Mass Is 

Ended 

Michelangelo (di Lodovico 
Buonarroti Simoni) 134 
Michi, Maria 35 
Mill on the Po, The 97, 224-5 
Miracle, The 173 

Miracle in Milan 28, 74-5, 79, 81-7, 
97,115,117, 141, 155, 186, 228-9 
Miracolo, Il see The Miracle 
Miracolo a Milano see Miracle in 
Milan 

Monicelli, Mario 138, 155 



Monsieur Verdoux 85 
Monsieur Vincent 92 
Moravia, Alberto 20, 125 
Moretti, Nanni 28 
Mother 70 
Muddy River 27 

Mulino del Po, Il see The Mill on 
the Po 

Murnau, F. W. 8, 29, 36, 70 
Mussolini, Benito 21, 24, 31 
"Myth of Stalin, The" 11-12 
"Myth of Total Cinema, The" 6 

Nair, Mira 27 

Naked City, The 28 

naturalism 7, 167, 178, 199 

Nave blanca, La 31, 211 

Nazism 2,21-2,31,48 

Nazzari, Amedeo 200 

Nenni, Pietro 21 

neoclassicism 95, 97 

neorealism, Italian 4-5, 8, 10, 13, 
16-17, 18-50, 54, 61-4, 67, 70, 
77-81, 89, 96-7, 99, 102, 104-7, 
109, 111-12, 115-18, 120, 122, 
128-9, 130, 136, 138-9, 141-4, 
146-7, 150-2, 156-7, 162-7, 
168-9, 170-5, 184, 187-90, 
194-95, 199, 201 

New Wave, French see nouvelle 
vague 

Nibelungen, Die 29 

Nichetti, Maurizio 28 

The Night see La notte 

Nights ofCabiria, The 194, 195-203, 
235 

Nohody Knows 27 

Non ce pace tra gli ulivi see No 

Peace among the Olives 
No Peace among the Olives 131, 

133-5, 227 
Nosferatu 29 
Notte, La 28 

Notti di Cabiria, Le see The Nights 

ofCabiria 
nouvelle vague 8, 27 

Obsession see Ossessione 
Occupation, Allied 33, 50 
Occupation, German 2, 22, 177 
Oguri, Kobei 27 
O.K. New 125 
Olmi, Ermanno 28 
"Ontology of the Photographic 

Image, The" 4-5 
Oro di Napoli, L' see Gold of Naples 
Ossessione 19-20, 23-4, 89, 178, 213 
Overcoat, The 141 

Pact with the Devil see fl patto col 
diavolo 



Index 



249 



Padovani, Léa 136 

Padre Padrone 28 

Pagliero, Marcello 35 

Pagnol, Marcel 136, 160-1, 164 

Paiså see Paisan 

Paisan 19, 29, 33-5, 39, 41, 44-50, 
53-4, 61, 64, 67, 69-70, 75, 104, 
142-3, 146, 152, 166-7, 173,218 

Palotta, Gabrielle 186 

Panahi, Jafar 27 

Pane, Amore e Fantasie see Bread, 

Love, and Dreams 
Pane, Amore e Gelosia see Bread, 

Love, and Jealousy 
Paquis, Jean-Herold 101 
Paradiso per quattro ore see Heaven 

for Four Hours 
Parents terribles, Les 12 
Parigi é sempre Parigi see Paris Is 

Always Paris 
Parisien libéré, Le 2 
Paris Is Always Paris 139 
Pascal, Blaise 147 
Pasolini, Pier Paolo 28 
Passionate Friends, The 63 
Pastrone, Giovanni 31, 97 
Pather Panchali 28 
Patto col diavolo, Il 62 
Paura, La 166 
Pavese, Cesare 20 
Perier, Francois 197, 199 
Phaedra 96 

phenomenology 65, 68, 77, 92, 152, 

154, 194, 199, 202 
Picasso Mystery, The 13 
Piccolo mondo antico 32, 210 
Pieds Nickelés, Les 125 
Pietrangeli, Antonio 19 
Piscator, Erwin 56 
Pixote 27 

Pizza on Credit see Gold ofNaples 
Poil de carotte 27 
Politique des auteurs 8-9 
Portrait oflnnocence 27 
Positif 27 

Postman Always Rings Twice, The 
24 

Posto, Il 28 

Potemkin see The Battleship 

Potemkin 
Pratolini, Vasco 20, 144 
Prévert, Jacques 64, 76 
propaganda 8, 16, 21, 56, 65, 94, 

99-102 

Proust, Marcel 71, 113-14, 174 
Provinciale, La see The Provincial 

Woman 
Provincial Woman, The 125-7 
Pudovkin, Vsevolod 7, 29, 55, 70 
Pugni in tasca, I see Fist in His 

Pocket 



Quattro passifra le nuvole see Four 

Steps in the Clouds 
Quest-ce que le cinéma? 1 1 
Quo Vadis? 31, 141 

Racine, Jean 96 

The Racketeer see Gold ofNaples 
Radio-Cinéma-Télévision 3 
Radvånyi, Géza 57 
Raimu 138 
Ray, Nicholas 28 
Ray, Satyajit 28 

realism 32, 35-41, 48-54, 60, 62-4, 
71, 77, 79, 89-90, 92, 95, 106-7, 
111, 115-7, 120, 122, 125, 134, 
136, 138, 142-3, 146-7, 151, 153, 
162, 166-70, 172, 178-9, 183, 
185, 188, 190, 199-201 

Red Roses 23 

Regle du jeu, La 49 

Renoir, Jean 1, 4, 8-9, 11, 13-14, 31, 
49, 60, 83-4, 106, 124, 142 

Resistance (French and Italian) 21, 
28, 32-5, 44, 67, 152, 167, 176-7 

Resnais, Alain 14 

Revolt of the Fishermen, The 56 

Revue du cinéma, La 3 

Rififi 158 

Risi, Dino 188, 190 
Riso amaro see Bitter Rice 
Risorgimento, Italian 176 
Rivette, Jacques 8 
Road, The see La strada 
Road to Hope, The 103-5, 129-30, 
226 

Road to Life, The 35 
Rohmer, Eric 4, 8, 13 
Roma, cittå aperta see Rome, Open 
City 

Romanticism 131, 141 
Rome, Eleven 0'Clock 135-6, 229 
Romeo and luliet 109-10, 143 
Rome, Open City 18-19, 21-2, 

29-30, 32, 34-5, 61, 75, 104, 152, 

166,216-17 
Rome, ore undici see Rome, Eleven 

0'Clock 
Roof, The 16, 184-6, 234 
Rooney, Mickey 57 
Rope 111 

Rosi, Francesco 28 

Rossellini, Roberto 8-9, 16, 18-19, 
21-2, 29, 30-3, 35,41,43-6, 
49, 57-61, 70, 75-6, 78, 106, 
120-2, 125, 128, 142, 146, 151-2, 
163-75, 184, 188, 199 

Rossen, Robert 28 

Rotha, Paul 62 

Rouch, Jean 14 

Rouquier, Georges 36, 40-1, 51, 
54, 69, 90 



Rousseau, Henri 88 
Rules of the Game, The see La Regle 
du jeu 

Sadoul, Georges 29 
Salaam Bombay! 27 
Salvatore Giuliano 28 
Saroyan, William 45, 50 
Sartre, Jean-Paul 2-3, 6, 197 
Sceicco bianco, Lo see The White 
Sheik 

Scipio Africanus 31, 62 
Sciusciå see Shoeshine 
Screen 15 

Selznick, David O. 128 
Senso 16, 152, 176-9, 232 
Sensualitå 134 

sentimentalism 28, 58, 60, 83-4, 

103, 128, 162, 175,181 
Shakespeare, William 110, 146, 

153 

Shoeshine 19, 25-7, 29, 32, 35, 44, 

61,64,74-5, 87, 104, 117-18, 

218-19 
Sight and Sound 164 
Signora senza camelie, La see The 

Lady without Camelias 
Sirk, Douglas 8 
socialism 21, 151-2 
socialist realism 151 
Soldati, Mario 32, 125-6 
Sole sorge ancora, Tl 33, 35, 221 
"Some Ideas on the Cinema" 22 
Sordi, Alberto 200 
Sortilége 44 
S.O.S. 103 31,212 
Spaak, Charles 160-1 
Stazione Termini 127-9, 146, 155-6, 

166 
Stendhal 44 
Steno 138 
Stolen Children 28 
Storia di Caterina see Catherines 

Story 

Story of a Love Affair see Cronaca di 

un amore 
Strada, La 148-54, 165, 180-1, 192, 

194-8, 202, 232 
Stroheim, Erich von 12, 29, 49 
Stromboli 166, 173 
Suarés, André 84 
Sucksdorff, Arne 53 
Sunday in August 138-9, 225-6 
Sun Rises Again, The see // sole sorge 

ancora 
surrealism 200 
Swindle, The see // Bidone 

Tabu 36-7, 70 
Taviani, Paolo 28 
Taviani, Vittorio 28 



250 



Index 



"Technique of Citizen Kane, The," 
10 

Temple, Shirley 57 
Temps modernes, Les 3 
Tentato suicidio see Attempted 

Suieide 
Teresa of Avila, Saint 92 
Teresa Venerdi 23 
Terminal Station see Stazione 

Termini 
Terra Trema, La see The Earth 

Trembles 
Tetto, Il see The Roof 
Theory of Film 11 
Thérése of Lisieux, Saint 90, 92 
They Live by Night 28 
Three Forbidden Tales 136-7 
Threepenny Opera, The 192 
Thunder over Mexico 70 
Times Gone By see Altri Tempi 
Tisse, Eduard 37 
Toland, Gregg 95 
Toni 13 

Tonti, Aldo 89-90 
Tornatore, Giuseppe 28 
Toto 138 

tragedy 33, 61, 64, 66-7, 72, 79-80, 
85, 97, 99,101,107,118,136, 
146, 172, 197, 202 

Tragic Hunt see Caccia tragica 

Travail et Culture 2 

Tre storle proibite see Three 
Forbidden Tales 

Trial, The 85 

Trovatore, Il 176 



Truffaut, Francois 4, 8, 14, 27 
Two Adolescents see Agostino 
Two Cents Worth of Hope 104, 
106-10, 117, 228 

Ubu the King (Jarry) 141 
Umberto D. 8, 16, 26, 28, 85, 
111-17, 138, 155-6, 158, 166, 
172, 174, 184, 186, 194, 201, 
230-1 

Vadim, Roger 14 
Vallone, Raf 130, 136 
Van Gogh, Vincent 43 
Vanquished, The see I Vinti 
Vanzino, Stefano see Steno 
Varzi, Elena 103, 130, 136 
Venice Film Festival 31, 54, 124, 

130, 141, 180 
Verde, Giuseppe 176 
Verga, Giovanni 20, 107 
Vergano, Aldo 43 
verism 32, 90, 107, 167 
Verneuil, Henri 114 
Vertov, Dziga 77 

Viaggio in Italia see Voyage in Italy 

Vigo, Jean 27, 57, 83-4 

Vinti, 1 124-5, 230 

Visconti, Luchino 14, 16, 19-20, 

23-4, 51-6, 79, 89-90, 97, 106, 

152, 170, 176-9 
Vitelloni, 1 12, 141, 180, 192-4, 196, 

198-200, 202, 231 
Vittorini, Elio 20, 50 
Vivere in pace 33, 62, 64, 219-20 



Voyage in Italy 164-166, 168, 170, 
174-5 

Wages ofFear, The 127 
Wanton Contessa, The see Senso 
Wayward Wife, The see The 

Provtnctal Woman 
Weil, Simone 121 
Welles, Orson 8, 11, 13, 39-40, 49, 

53, 95, 149 
What Is Cinema? 1 
What Rascals Men Are! see Gli 

uominl, che mascalzoni! 
Where Is the Frlends House? 27 
White Balloon, The 27 
White Sheik, The 140-1, 196 
White Ship, The see La nave blanca 
Wiene, Robert 7 
Wilson, Sloan 12 
Wood, Sam 49 
Wyler, William 6, 9 

Young and the Passionate, The see 

I vitelloni 
Youth and Perversion see / Vinti 

Zampa, Luigi 21 

Zanuck, Darryl F. 12 

Zavattini, Cesare 22, 27, 72, 76, 79, 
80, 83, 88, 106-7, 111-12, 114, 
116-20, 127-8, 142, 150, 152, 
157, 160-2, 172-5, 186-91, 
201 

Zero for Conduct 27, 57 
Zola, Emile 101, 107, 168